At least 21 people were killed in flash floods caused by an extremely powerful storm that hit the country late Saturday evening, August 6, 2016. A state of emergency was declared in capital Skopje and neighboring districts. Hundreds of homes and vehicles were destroyed. At least 6 people are still missing in what is now the worst flooding that hit Skopje since 1962.
According to Macedonia's weather service, 93 mm (3.6 inches) of rain fell in just two hours late August 6. This is equivalent to the average for an entire month of August. Meteorologists said that more than 800 lightning strikes were recorded in the first two hours of the storm that lasted for 5 hours.
Water reached as high as 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) in some areas.
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One Skopje resident said there were thunderbolts with lightning almost every second. "It was really horrific," she said.
Torrential rains flooded homes, swept away a section of the ring road around Skopje and wrecked cars. Northern suburbs of the capital were particularly hard hit, though the city center also suffered flash floods, Reuters reported. Children were among those killed, a police spokesman said, adding that searches were continuing for six people who have been reported missing.
"This is a catastrophe of unprecedented magnitude," Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Todorov told reporters.
The authorities have declared a crisis situation in Skopje and Tetovo for the next 15 days. Health authorities have advised residents in the worst hit areas to use only bottled water or water from public authority cisterns for drinking and cooking.
Three villages in the north-east of the country were cut off because of landslides, local media reported.
The country has declared Monday, August 8 a day of national mourning.
Skopje previously suffered disastrous flooding in 1962, a year before a shallow M6.9 earthquake on the Richter scale destroyed 80% of the city and claimed lives of more than 1 070 people.
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