Freak storm leaves 22 dead in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Published: 8 August 2016 8:56 CET

By Nichola Jones, IFRC

Flash flooding and gale-force winds have killed 22 people and left more than 60 injured after a sudden storm hit the north of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia this weekend.

More than 40 volunteers and staff from the Red Cross helped to evacuate hundreds of people from Gazi Baba municipality, the country’s capital Skopje and villages around Tetovo city. Families who had to leave their homes are staying in reception centres near Skopje.

Sasho Taleski, head of programmes at the Red Cross of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, said: “Heavy rainfall on Saturday led to landslides and severe flash flooding.

“We distributed blankets, mattresses and water to 1,000 people  on Saturday night and on Sunday, we provided water, food, toiletries, mattresses, blankets and clothes for a further 1,000.”

In excess of 90 millimetres of rain fell in 24 hours – more than the entirely monthly average for the Western Balkan country. Cars were washed away and sections of Skopje’s ring road were destroyed. Farm land was also badly hit and hundreds of homes have been damaged.  

The Red Cross of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has launched an appeal to fund more emergency supplies including baby food, nappies and cleaning kits as people begin the difficult task of clearing flood water and debris from their homes.