Merseyside Firefighters Rescue People From Balkan Floods

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Firefighters Rescue People From Balkan Floods

Firefighters from the UK International Search and Rescue Team (UK ISAR) rescued more than 100 people from their homes following widespread flooding in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The team, which includes seven Merseyside firefighters, also delivered humanitarian aid, including clean water, to people who were surrounded by flooding.

A team of 33 firefighters from Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Hampshire, Lincolnshire, West Midlands, Mid and West Wales and West Sussex were deployed to the Balkan region this week to help with the flood relief efforts.

They are equipped with a range of water response equipment including four rigid inflatable boats, which are being used to transport people to relief centres.

All of those who were sent from the UK had volunteered to help those in need in other countries.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has experienced heavy rain, causing widescale flooding and landslides.

Water levels in some areas are reported to be up to around two-and-a-half metres and people are trapped on the first or second floor of their homes.

Area Manager Nick Searle, of Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, who is in the Balkan region leading the team of firefighters, said: “The houses are very isolated so we are moving up to each house in rigid inflatable boats, speaking to people who are inside who are all on the first floor or second floor of those properties and asking them if they would like to be removed to a place of safety.

“It has been a horrendous situation. The water levels are up to two and a half metres in most of the villages. There are people on the first or second floor of the property.

“We rescued about 100 people on Monday (May 19) and they are now out of their properties. People have a tendency to want to stay in their property and it is about getting those people out to rest centres.”

There are one million people living in the affected areas and over 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.

Flood waters are receding however relief efforts are difficult due to landslides, damaged roads and collapsed houses. Unexploded landmines that may have been dislodged by floodwater also pose a risk to rescue team and there are also issues of contaminated flood water

Area Manager Searle added: “We have brought a decontamination unit so all 33 UK firefighters are decontaminated at the end of each day and we are trying to advise the population here that they need to come out and not swim but get in the boat so we can take them to a rest centre.”

The Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) deployed the team of firefighters, who worked with international search and rescue teams from across Europe to help those in the most affected areas.

Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens, who is the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) lead on National Resilience said: “Our firefighters have undertaken a number of rescues. The Team were self-sufficient for up to 10 days and operated four powered rescue boat teams, 24 hours a day, in support of the affected communities.”

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Merseyside firefighters in the rescue boat helping communities in the flooded Balkan region. Photo credit Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service.




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