Aug 7, 2016

A ‘Water Bomb’ of a Storm Kills 21 in Macedonia’s Capital, Skopje

Skopje
Macedonia (FYROM)
by
Aleksandar Dimishkovski
,
The New York Times
People fled their flooded homes Sunday in the village of Stajkovci, near Skopje, Macedonia. Photo: Robert Atanasovski/Agence France-Presse
People fled their flooded homes Sunday in the village of Stajkovci, near Skopje, Macedonia. Photo: Robert Atanasovski/Agence France-Presse

A freakishly violent rainstorm that Macedonia’s top weather official called a “water bomb” ravaged Skopje during the weekend, collapsing streets, inundating vehicles and drowning trapped motorists and homeowners, most of them caught by surprise.

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The National Hydrometeorological Service said it had issued a warning about an impending storm earlier on Saturday, but the intensity of the storm was a shock.

“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, the director of the service, said Sunday. “We are all shaken from this phenomenon and from what it has caused.”

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At least 21 people were killed and 77 injured in what officials described on Sunday as the worst flooding disaster in a half-century to hit Skopje, the Macedonian capital and a city of more than a half-million people in the central part of the Balkan Peninsula