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14 dead in Bulgaria flash floods as rescuers search for missing

VARNA, Bulgaria--Flash floods in Bulgaria have killed at least 14 people, including two children, with others missing after torrential rains lashed the east of the country, authorities said Friday.

The worst hit was the Asparuhovo neighborhood of the Black Sea port city of Varna, where at least 11 people including two children perished, local authorities said.

A 7-year-old child, who said he was with his sister and grandmother when the disaster hit, was rescued and taken to hospital.

Three more victims drowned in the nearby northeastern town of Dobrich and 150 people were evacuated from the lowest part of the town where the water level remained waist-high on Friday evening, an AFP photographer said.

A total of 1,200 tourists, including Germans, Russians and Britons, were evacuated — some via helicopters — from the nearby resort of Albena, resort chief Krasimir Stanev said.

Many Ukrainian children meanwhile remained blocked in their hotel in the village of Kranevo.

Dozens of smashed and piled up cars and uprooted trees littered the narrow mud-splattered streets of the worst-hit Varna neighborhood of Asparuhovo on Friday, leaving parts of the area still impassable.

The normally picturesque hillside quarter was submerged after torrential rain pounded the region on Thursday evening, clogging garbage-filled drainage canals and turning the steep streets into raging torrents.

Many rickety houses were totally destroyed by the water and authorities were unable to say whether their owners had survived even if they found no new victims buried under the ruins.

Electricity was partially restored on Friday except in the worst-affected parts where authorities refrained from switching it on due to safety concerns. Also, bad tap water quality made it unsafe for drinking.

Navy divers continued to search a canal linking Lake Varna to the Black Sea, where all the floodwater drained away, dragging with it cars, furniture, garbage and uprooted trees. Two bodies were recovered from the waters.

Soldiers and 40 prisoners helped to evacuate people throughout the day and clean up the piles of mud and garbage from the streets of Asparuhovo.

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A man looks over piled up cars swept away by severe flooding in the town of Varna, Bulgaria, Friday, June 20. Large parts of the Balkan country have been hit by heavy rain and hailstorms, and hundreds of people have been left without electricity and food supplies.

(AP)

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