Israel sends experts to flood-hit Romania

Magen David Adom "honored and privileged" by Romania's request.

Israeli paramedics were set to fly to Romania on Thursday to assist the local population following the disastrous flooding of the River Danube. Magen David Adom selected two experts from a disaster management team to join a 10-person international delegation sent to the region at the request of the Regional Disaster Response Advisors (RDRA) and Romania's Federal Assistance Coordination Team (FACT). The country has been hit by flooding in the past, most recently last summer, but it was the first time the federation in Budapest had turned to Israel for help. MDA Disaster Management Officer Haim Rafalowski said that the organization was "honored and privileged" by Romania's request. The team will evaluate the situation before deciding whether to send more people as part of the international delegation. The rising waters of the River Danube, reaching record levels in areas of Romania and Bulgaria, have driven thousands of people from villages in southern Romania, and thousands more are threatened by floodwaters. The Danube, Europe's second-longest river, has doubled its average volume for this time of year, flowing at a record 15,800 cubic meters (558,000 cubic feet) per second, according to the Romanian government. Authorities issued new flood warnings in southern Romania on Tuesday, saying 10,000 people could be evacuated if the river breaches dikes in the south. In Bistret, hundreds of rescue workers scrambled to repair a dike that cracked early Tuesday under the water pressure. Army rescue workers used trucks, and villagers used horse-drawn carts to pile up sandbags against the dike. Thousands faced having to flee their homes. More than 3,000 people were evacuated from the nearby village of Rast after a dike collapsed Sunday, while some 400 people were forced to leave their homes in nearby Negoi. Authorities said more than 600 houses in Rast were flooded, and 115 collapsed. In Negoi, some 150 houses were flooded. A major road was under water, and hundreds of rescue workers and volunteers were working to repair the dike and help local residents. Dozens of families who had been forced out of their homes by the rising waters gathered in a field near Rast. Many sheltered in makeshift tents. Five thousand people have been evacuated from flooded areas, with about 40,000 hectares of farm land flooded, hundreds of kilometers of riverbanks under/ water and 18 bridges destroyed by floodwaters, Romanian Interior Minister Vasile Blaga said, adding he would travel to the worst-hit areas later Tuesday. In Romania's eastern port of Galati, waters surged to more than 6 meters. The record, in 1897, was 6.5 meters. Officials also warned that although water levels were receding in some areas no residents would be allowed back in before a thorough cleanup and disinfection.