Hundreds evacuated in Albania amid persistent rain, flooding


TIRANA, Albania — Soldiers and police evacuated hundreds of residents in southern Albania on Saturday amid persistent rain in the country that has caused riverbanks to burst, flooding several villages and inundating thousands of homes.

Many roads in the region have been blocked by mudslides. More than 100 families in five villages near the Vjosa River, about 120 km southwest of the capital, Tirana, were evacuated overnight, the Defense Ministry said.

Police and soldiers have forcefully removed people from their homes in some cases, top emergency official Shemsi Prenci said.

About 2,300 troops have been deployed to the area along with six teams of emergency responders from neighboring Kosovo, he said.

At least one person has died in the last three days of heavy rainfall that has flooded many parts of Albania, temporarily paralyzing its ports and suspending flights from its only international airport. But there haven’t been any fatalities in the latest spell of downpours in southern Albania.

“Fortunately there has been no loss of human lives, nor of cattle so far,” said Prenci, adding that warnings about the bad weather earlier this week gave residents enough time to bring their livestock to safety, and personal belongings to upper floors.

Officials said Friday that 3,334 households were underwater and 3,016 hectares (7,500 acres) of agricultural land was flooded. On Saturday, authorities said that 45,000 residents were without power.

Prime Minister Edi Rama has said that a total of 6,400 emergency responders, police and soldiers are dealing with “a very critical situation.”