Macedonia has declared a state of emergency after Skopje and northern suburbs of the country were hit by heavy rain, strong winds and thunderstorms on Saturday (6 August), killing at least 21 people, many of them children. Torrential rain flooded homes and swept away a section of a ring road in the Macedonian capital, while wrecked vehicles were left overturned among the debris. Six people remain missing and more than 1,000 have been evacuated.

Macedonia floods
Men stand around an overturned truck by the ringroad close to the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia floods
A woman wades in floodwaters in front of her home Robert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia floods
A man stands next to a flooded vehicles near StajkovciRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia
A woman shows the damages in her house following in the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia
Muddy plates and utensils are seen in a house after heavy floods in Singelic near SkopjReuters

Witnesses told Associated Press how victims had drowned after being trapped in their homes as the storm swept through the area. Police forces, firefighters and army units were sent to the worst-hit areas, which included the villages of Stajkovci, Cento, Smiljkovci and Aracinovo. Mayor Koce Trajanovski described the damage as "the worst Skopje has ever seen" and told AP that the deadly deluge created hazardous painful accumulations within only 20 minutes.

Macedonia floods
A man passes damaged vehicles near the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia floods
A man speaks on a mobile phone in front of damaged vehicles and flooded streets near the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia floods
A man takes a photo of damaged vehicles near the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia floods
People take a picture of a car sent above the ringroad by the floods near the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia floods
Cars damaged by the flooding near the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia
A man cleans up after heavy floods in Singelic near SkopjeReuters
Macedonia
A man cleans notes of cash after heavy floods in Stajkovce near SkopjeReuters

Authorities said at least 5,000 people are in urgent need of food and water. They urged people to stay home and to only drink bottled water which had been provided by emergency services. The rain stopped on Sunday (7 August), with water levels appearing to lower; there were no later reports of flash flooding. EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said on Twitter that the EU stood ready to help.

Heavy winds have also caused disruption in the northern Balkans, with Croatia closing a highway which links the capital Zagreb to the southern coast, according to local media.

Macedonia floods
People stand near an overturned truck and a broken road sign by the ringroad close to the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia floods
People leave their flood-hit homes in the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia
A woman removes toy from her flooded house in the village of Stajkovce, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia
A man throws out mud from his flooded house in the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia floods
People look at a wrecked car after heavy floods in Cento near SkopjeReuters
Macedonia floods
People walk on the streets after heavy floods in Cento near SkopjeMaja Zlatevska/ AFP
Macedonia floods
A man stands in the floodwaters outside a house near the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP
Macedonia floods
A man walks next to wrecked car after heavy floods in Cento near SkopjeReuters
Macedonia floods
A wrecked car is seen after heavy floods in Cento near SkopjeReuters
Macedonia floods
An overturned car is seen in front of a church near the village of Stajkovci, near SkopjeRobert Atanasovski/ AFP