BEGOV HAN, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — A 6-year-old boy who fell into a swollen creek on his bicycle remained missing after floods hit parts of Bosnia on Tuesday, raising fears the Balkan country could see a repeat of the record flooding that killed at least 23 people and affected about a third of the population five years ago.
The child was riding over a small wooden bridge outside his home when he fell into the water along with his bike, the boy's uncle told The Associated Press.
"His mother tried to save him. She jumped into the water," Sanel Meseljevic said, his voice trembling. "We also went in and searched....We couldn't find him. We don't know where he is, if he was swept away ... or he is still somewhere in the creek."
Rescue teams in the central village of Begov Han spent hours looking for the boy and found the bicycle before calling off the search for the day, local media reported.
Torrential rains that started on Sunday caused rivers in northwestern and central Bosnia to break their banks, flooding homes and roads. Local authorities in several areas urged residents living close to rivers to evacuate their homes and launched emergency measures to respond to the rising flood waters.
A number of schools canceled classes, while electricity and water supplies were disrupted. Landslides closed local roads.
Officials across Bosnia sought to dispel alarm northern Bosnia was at risk for the kind of destruction it suffered when the heaviest rain ever recorded drenched southeast Europe for days in mid-May 2014.
"We don't expect the 2014 situation because the intensity of the rainfall was much higher then," said Dusan Vranjes, an emergency sector official in Prijedor.
Nusret Alicik, a resident of Tesanj, in northern Bosnia, said water burst into the lower part of his house, as well as his mother's.
"I was at home, I climbed up the stairs on the first floor, brought the valuables upstairs. too. Where else could I go?" he said.
In neighboring Croatia, authorities raised flood defenses in the central towns of Hrvatska Kostajnica, Korana and Karlovac.
Croatian public broadcaster HRT said firefighters rescued eight tourists, including two children, in a central area.