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Albania sends in military rescue as heavy rains trigger huge floods

A member of the military rescue force tries to reach residents blocked in a flooded house in the village of Novosele, near the city of Vlora, on December 2, 2017. One person died and three others were injured after heavy rainfall over the past three days that flooded many parts of Albania, paralyzing its ports and causing flights from its only international airport to be suspended.<br />Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP

Thousands of police and soldiers have been deployed in Albania to rescue stranded residents after heavy rainfall triggered major flooding, and caused the death of a utility worker, officials and the power company said Sunday.

The victim, Sabri Vlinga, died while he was working on a electricity pole at Roskovec in the flooded south of the country, the power company said in statement.

Two other people were injured in similar accidents. it added.

Some 6,400 police and soldiers have been sent to help rescue people stranded by the floods, Prime MInister Edi Rama said Saturday, calling the situation “very critical”.

Around 1,500 people in the affected areas have been rescued, while several thousand homes were without electricity as many utility poles have been swept away by mudslides, said Shemsi Prenci, head of civil protection.

More than 7,874 hectares (19,450 acres) of farm land as well as 3,193 homes are under water and several roads in the south remained impassable.

Army forces have built a temporary bridge at Darezeze, about 70 kilometres (44 miles) from the capital Tirana, to come to the aid of 2,000 residents stranded by the floods, the defence ministry said.

In neighbouring Macedonia, the heavy rains have also caused flooding as several rivers include the main Vardar river have burst their banks, the MIA news agency reported.

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