Romania seeks Nato's help over flood damage

BUCHAREST, Apr 11, 2000 -- (Reuters) Romania will seek help from NATO to recover from floods that killed seven people and damaged more than 60,000 hectares of farmland, officials said on Monday.

Defence Minister Sorin Frunzaverde said Bucharest had asked an ad-hoc "crisis cell" at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels to assist in addressing the impact of this month's floods, which local experts call the worst in 30 years.

The latest victim was a three-year-old girl, who drowned in a flooded ditch outside her village home in western Romania.

Heavy rains and melting snow turned most of the country's inland rivers into torrents that flooded more than 3,000 homes mostly near the western border with Hungary and Yugoslavia.

More than 30 villages were isolated by muddy waters that covered long stretches of roads and damaged 360 bridges, the Ministry for Civil Service said.

"Lack of river harnessing works is the main cause of the floods," Frunzaverde told reporters on a visit to the industrial town of Resita. "Over the past 15 years, Romania's water utility got no funds for works on any of the country's major rivers."

Authorities in Resita, 510 kilometers (319 miles) northwest of Bucharest, feared that a residential district of the town might be affected by another landslide, following one at the weekend that disrupted the municipal water supply.

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