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Major flooding hits Albania, paralyzing ports and suspending air traffic

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A severe storm hit Albania on Thursday, November 30, 2017, and continued affecting the country on December 1, causing severe flooding in central areas of the country. Citizens are urged to follow official advice and avoid unnecessary travel as the situation is expected to get much worse later today, especially in the country's south. Heavy rain is expected to continue for several days, with major flooding predicted across the country.

Heavy rains in excess of 150 mm (5.9 inches) within 24 hours that hit Albania today caused severe flooding in central parts of the country, forcing authorities to evacuate dozens of families, paralyzing ports and suspending air traffic. At least 71 000 people were left without power by noon local time.

Northwestern Shkodra region was worst affected, while mudslides temporarily blocked traffic in the southern Albania.

The storm turned deadly within a couple of hours with 1 person killed, 3 injured and several hundred trapped and evacuated. The person killed was a 50-year-old electrician who died trying to fix a power outage. Evacuations have been carried out in Marikaj and Laknas in Tirana County, Fushë-Krujë in Durrës County and in Bardhaj, Shkodër County, where the Kir River overflowed. 

Numerous roads have been blocked, including western highway leading into the capital Tirana. The highway is now partially cleared but many other roads remain flooded.

The Ministry of Education closed all schools on Friday.

72 hours of rainfall accumulation SE Europe by 09:00 UTC on December 1, 2017

72 hours of rainfall accumulation SE Europe by 09:00 UTC on December 1, 2017. Credit: NASA/JAXA GVP

Local media reported that the country's civil emergency authorities started preparing earlier in the week as meteorologists already knew the country would get a month's worth of rain in just two days.

Citizens are urged to follow official advice and avoid unnecessary travel as the situation is expected to get much worse later today, especially in the country's south. Heavy rain is expected to continue for several days, with major flooding predicted across the country.

Featured image: Floods in Albania on December 1, 2017. Copyright: Top Channel Albania

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