Rain, flooding hits Skopje, Macedonia; more than 20 dead

SKOPJE, Macedonia, Aug. 8 (UPI) — A severe weekend rainstorm killed 21 people, injured at least 77 and prompted the worst flooding disaster in years in Skopje, Macedonia, officials said.

In a single day, the central European capital received more than three times its normal monthly amount of rain, CNN reported. Rescue workers removed more than 1,000 people from flooded buildings and streets, and traffic in much of the city was paralyzed as vehicles were submerged in underpasses. The country’s National Hydrometeorological Service said it provided a warning about the impending rain, but the intensity of the storm came as a surprise. Four inches of rain fell on the Gazi Baba area of the city Saturday, with wind speeds of up to 49 miles per hour. Other areas of the city received little rain.

“The clouds seem to have stopped immediately and dropped the water on this very small part of Skopje, in what can be described only as a water bomb,” Oliver Romevski, director of the meteorological service, said Sunday. “We are all shaken from this phenomenon and from what it has caused.”

Many people in the Skopje region are reported missing, and the death toll is expected to rise. Most of those who died in the storm resided in suburban villages adjacent to Gazi Baba.

Health Minister Nikola Todorov said the storm was the most severe since 1962, when more than 5,000 homes were flooded.

More rain was expected Sunday and Monday. “We don’t expect showers with the same intensity as those from yesterday,” the National Hydrometeorological Service said in a statement Sunday.

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