Source AP ©

Flooding kills seven in Bulgaria

Torrential rain following weeks of drought caused severe flooding in northern Bulgaria, sweeping away cars, reducing scores of homes to rubble and killing at least seven people, the country's civil defense authority said Tuesday.

Worst-hit was Tzar Kaloyan, a town 260 kilometers (160 miles) northeast of Sofia, where a small dam overflowed during the night, sending a meter-high (three-foot) wave crashing through the streets, the Department of Civil Defense said. About 200 homes were severely damaged, with 100 destroyed.

Six of the dead were from Tzar Kaloyan, including a mother and her young child who had been among five people reported missing earlier in the day. The seventh was a priest found drowned in a nearby village, the department said.

Rescue crews were still searching for three people believed swept away by floodwaters, but heavy rainfall was hampering the effort, the civil defense department said. Roads leading to the town were still under water Tuesday, and many villages in the area were without electricity.

The National Institute for Meteorology said it was unable to calculate the amount of rainfall because its measuring equipment in the area had been swept away by floodwaters.

President Georgi Parvanov was heading to Tzar Kaloyan, his office said in a statement.

Last week, the same area had declared a state of emergency due to a drought during two successive heat waves that had left the surrounding agricultural land parched.

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