SKOPJE, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 8th August, 2016) - Macedonia held a day of mourning Monday after at least 21 people were killed in flooding and violent winds as a freak storm battered the capital Skopje. The city was battered overnight Saturday- Sunday with winds packing speeds of more than 70 kilometres (43 miles) an hour, while torrents of mud and water swept away cars. "Our teams are on the ground, searching the affected terrain," interior ministry spokeswoman Natalija Spirova Kordic told AFP, although she said all those registered missing had been accounted for.
Local media said the youngest victim was just one year old and the oldest was 83, but Kordic could not their confirm their ages. A state of emergency declared on Sunday was extended for 15 days in Skopje and the northwestern city of Tetovo, where heavy storms caused damage to property but no casualties. Villages on the northern outskirts of the capital were particularly badly affected. Meteorologists said more than 800 lightning strikes were recorded in the first two hours of the storm, during which the average rainfall for the whole of August fell on Skopje in the space of just two hours.
The subsequent floods reached as high as 1.5 metres (five feet) in some areas. Some of the victims died in their cars as they were rapidly engulfed, while others were unable to flee their homes in time to reach safety. A statement from the European Union expressed "deepest sympathies" and offered assistance to the authorities in Macedonia, home to two million people. The landlocked nation is an EU candidate country, although accession negotiations are yet to get under way. Skopje previously suffered disastrous flooding in 1962, a year before a huge earthquake that almost destroyed the city. In the spring of 2014, the Balkans region was hit by its worst floods in more than a century, which affected 1.6 million people and left 47 people dead in Serbia and Bosnia.