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Flooding kills 12 people

At least 12 people died and an unknown number were missing after heavy rain and floods hit parts of northeastern Bulgaria, officials said Friday.

Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev confirmed that 10 bodies, including two children, were recovered from floodwaters in the worst-hit Black Sea resort town of Varna. It was unclear how many more people were missing after torrential rain flooded large parts of the town.

Two more bodies were recovered in the northern city of Dobrich.

A state of emergency was declared in Varna's low-lying district of Asparuhovo, where many houses were flooded and dozens of cars had floated away, in some cases lying on top of each other. Rescue teams were bringing distressed people to temporary shelters.

Many people seen on the streets were crying over the deaths of loved ones, others desperately looked for help.

Yani Yanev, a 61-year-old resident of the Asparuhovo district, pointed at the mud-covered streets, wrecked cars and debris, saying it was the worst disaster in his lifetime.

"It is unbelievable and unexplainable when you look at all the damage around caused by the flood that hit us," Yanev said.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, who arrived in Varna early Friday, called the flooding "a huge tragedy." The government declared Monday, June 23, a national day of mourning.

Large parts of the Balkan country have been hit by heavy rain and hailstorms, and hundreds of people have been cut off from electricity and food supplies.

Emergency teams were dispatched to the worst-affected areas, and the Bulgarian Red Cross was providing drinking water, food and essential supplies to victims.

The national meteorological service said rainfall in eastern Bulgaria in the past 24 hours equaled the average amount for a month, and warned that more rain was expected.

The Canadian Press

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