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18 May, 2014 14:01

Death toll rises to 44 in worst ever Balkan flooding (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

The overall death toll in the unprecedented floods that have raged across the Balkans has reached 44, as more bodies were recovered from the Serbian town of Obrenovac on Sunday.

In "Obrenovac alone we recovered 12 corpses," Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said, as cited by the Associated Press. That brings the number of disaster victims in Serbia up to 16, while Bosnia has confirmed 27 dead and Croatia one.

12 bodies recovered in flooded Obrenovac - PM http://t.co/4i0dfDuIU7#SerbiaFloods Photo: Tanjug pic.twitter.com/HBs5hvq7Bt

— B92 in English (@b92english) May 18, 2014

Rescue teams and humanitarian aid have come to Serbia and neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina from 14 European Union member-states. Kristalina Georgieva, the EU's humanitarian aid chief, said it was a “perfect demonstration of European solidarity.”

A woman and her children arrive by European Union Force (EUFOR) helicopter after being rescued from the flooded Serici village near Zepce, at a heliport in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, May 17, 2014. (Reuters / Dado Ruvic)

Famous movie director, Emir Kusturica, has donated his two helicopters to Serbian rescuers to assist with evacuations.

According to information I got from the pilots, my Robinsons saved 25 people, mostly children,” Kusturica said, as cited by Itar-Tass. “The helicopters have spent almost 24 hours in the air, and as long as the battle with the water continues, they will be at the government’s disposal.

Russian relief workers in Serbia have evacuated more than 2,100 people over two days, including 576 children from flooded areas. On Sunday, two Russian cargo planes brought food, generators and rescue boats to the disaster-struck country.

A Serbian rows a boat past flooded ambulance vehicles in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade, Serbia May 17, 2014. (Reuters/Marko Djurica)

The Russian team of 76 rescuers has mostly been working in the worst-hit Serbian town of Obrenovac.

When the [Russian] crew arrived, a bigger part of the town was under water, in some of the areas water was reaching the roofs,” said Aleksandr Savoskin, assistant to the director of the Russian-Serbian humanitarian center. “What aggravated the situation was the fact that roads turned into streams, and evacuation was only possible by boat or helicopter.”

In total, over 24,000 people in Serbia have been evacuated as a result of several days of heavy rains, according to Sunday’s estimate announced by the head of the sector for emergency situations at the country’s Interior Ministry, Predrag Maric.

Evacuees from the Serbian town of Obrenovac are seen lying on beds in a shelter hall in Belgrade, May 18, 2014. (Reuters/Marko Djurica)

Serbian PM Vucic emotionally described the natural disaster as the worst “not just in a hundred, but in a thousand years.”

Vucic said the biggest danger was still presented by the Sava river: it has not overflown thanks to kilometers-long sandbag barriers. In the area of Sabac city, the water has been standing at a level of 6.6 meters, but if the water rises to 6.8 meters it will spill over the barriers.

A man rides a bicycle among sand bags protecting the banks of the Sava river in the Serbian city of Sremska Mitrovica, 70 kilometers west of Belgrade, on May 18, 2014. (AFP Photo / Andrej Isakovic)

Survivors of the most severely flooded regions have found temporary shelter in schools, university campuses and hotels. They shudder to recall what they went through and to think of what lies ahead.

People evacuate in a boat in the flooded town of Obrenovac, southwest of Belgrade, Serbia May 17, 2014. (Reuters/Marko Djurica)

"I carried my kids out on my back, then waited 12 hours to be rescued myself," 40-year-old Obrenovac resident Dragan Todorovic told Reuters. "The house was new, built two years ago for 100,000 euros. What now?"

Officials in the disaster-affected countries have not yet come up with estimates of the damage caused by the floods, but they already expect those to be astronomical. The agricultural sector, on which the economies of the Balkan countries rely, is expected to bear the brunt of the record flooding.

An aerial view shows a flooded area near the Northern-Bosnian town of Brcko on May 18, 2014. (AFP Photo / Elvis Barukcic)

A group of people wait for their evacuation from their flooded house in the town of Obrenovac, 40 kilometers west of Belgrade, on May 17, 2014. (AFP Photo / Alexa Stankovic)

A Serbian rescuer carries an elderly woman out of her flooded house in the village of Obrez, near the central Serbian town of Varvarin, south of Belgrade, on May 17, 2014. (AFP Photo / Sasa Djordjevic)