Heavy rains have led to severe flash flooding in Bosnia and Herzegovina, prompting evacuations, leading to power outages in most of the capital, closing a key facility for oxygen used for COVID-19 patients and submerging roads in some parts. of the Balkan country.
The only certified medical oxygen filling plant in Bosnia, part of Germany’s Messer Group, was located between workplaces and homes in Sarajevo’s suburbs that had to be evacuated after being invaded by rapid floods on Friday.
Avdo Delic, general manager of the Messer branch in Bosnia, said the plant was completely submerged and expressed concern that hospitals across the country treating COVID-19 patients will run out of medical oxygen cylinders unless company operations are quickly restored to alternate locations.
Bosnia is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations amid a recent surge in the virus. The country of 3.5 million has one of the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, less than 20 percent. On Friday, it reported about 1,100 new infections a day and 32 deaths.
So far, Bosnia has confirmed more than 250,000 infections and more than 11,000 deaths, one of the highest per capita death rates in Europe.
Hundreds of homes in the suburbs of Sarajevo, along the Bosnia, Tilava and Zeljeznica rivers, and in the southwestern part of the country, around the city of Konjic, had to be evacuated under incessant downpours.
Most of Sarajevo was without power for hours due to the flooding of one of the main substations on the outskirts of the city. Power transmission company Elektroprijenos said heavy rains were hampering attempts to divert power. Since then, electricity has been restored in most of the city.
Images of the floods in Vojkovici, on the outskirts of Sarajevo, showed a gas station and a local motel precariously close to the fast-flowing, swelling Zeljava River that had drifted away from its banks.
Rising rivers flooded many local roads around Bosnia, forcing some schools to cancel classes.
The rain started late Thursday and forecasts say it will continue to fall through Sunday, raising fears of a repeat record flood that affected about a third of the population in 2014.
Unusually warm weather days followed with temperatures over 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit).