Severe flooding kills at least 12 in Bulgaria

People try to protect themselves from floodwater in the Black sea town of Varna

At least 12 people have died and several are missing after torrential rain and heavy floods hit eastern Bulgaria, officials say.

Floodwaters in the Black Sea port city of Varna surged up to 1m (3.2ft).

Many residents had to be rescued as cars were swept away. Hundreds have been left without electricity or food.

There have been hailstorms and heavy rain in several parts of Bulgaria in recent days. Forecasts say the extreme weather is set to continue.

Ten people died in Varna, including two children. There were also at least another two deaths reported a few miles north in Dobrich, where electricity was down and water was said to be flowing through the streets.

Forecasters said that the equivalent of a month’s rain fell in the regions of Varna and Burgas over the past 24 hours.

Partially-submerged caught in heavy flooding in the city of Varna (19 June 2014)

“The tragedy is enormous. I am here on a street in the suburb of Asparuhovo. The street is not here, the houses are not here, there are cars on top of each other,” Varna mayor Ivan Portnih was quoted by the Reuters new agency as saying.

Many residents told how they had to clamber on to their roofs to escape the floods.

In Dobrich, the River Suha burst its banks and there were fears of a flood surge although authorities said water levels were expected to fall in the coming hours.

Helicopters airlifted residents from their homes in the flooded nearby village of Prilep.

A state of emergency has been declared in parts of central and north-eastern Bulgaria, Novinite news agency reports.

A man walks past a damaged car in a flooded street of a suburb of the Black Sea port of Varna (AFP)

Damaged cars in Varna (19 June 2014)

Fire-fighters in the town of Kilifarevo in central Bulgaria rescued 11 people from the tops of their houses, police said.

Last month nearby Serbia and Bosnia were hit by the worst flooding since modern records began.

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