SKOPJE, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- At least 20 people died on Saturday night in the Macedonian capital of Skopje as it was hit by heavy rains and floods. Six others were still missing, the Macedonian Ministry of Interior has confirmed.
Most of the victims drowned in the suburbs where raging water flooded houses, carried away trees and cars, and caused mudslide. More than 22 people were injured and hospitalized.
"This is a true disaster. Our first neighbors -- a man, a woman and their child drowned. It is a catastrophe of a huge scale. There is a meter and a half of water in all of our homes," a citizen of Chento settlement in Skopje told media.
The authorities feared that the number of casualties might be even bigger since search and rescue operations were still underway.
In just few hours on Saturday evening, Skopje received almost 100 liters of rain on a square meter, followed by strong wind and intense thunder.
"This scale of disaster is unrecorded in our recent history. We are giving our all to try and reduce the consequences. Everybody that can help is included," Skopje's mayor Koce Trajanovski said.
The city authorities called upon all citizens on Saturday night to remain at home and wait for help or for the floods to stop.
Macedonian Army was deployed to help citizens of the flooded areas and evacuate the ones at an immediate risk.
The National Steering Committee for Crisis Management would hold a session on Sunday, drawing up measures to cope with the disaster. One of the measures proposed to the government is declaring a state of emergency in the next 15 days in the cities of Skopje and Tetovo.
"We are searching the whole area with helicopters, but we hope that we have seen the worst. We will evacuate everyone that is in danger, we will supply food and other necessary items to the families in the areas which were most severely hit. We will start pumping the water out of the houses and we will initiate immediate assessment of the damages caused,"Vice Prime Minister and Health Minister Nikola Todorov announced.
Over 1.000 citizens were evacuated during the night from the affected areas. Citizens also organize actions to help those in need, gathering food and supplies and offering aid in transport and evacuation.
The health authorities advise the population in the flooded areas to use only bottled water, and not to eat fruits and vegetables from flooded gardens. Parts of the capital Skopje still don't have water and electricity supply due to the damage to infrastructure caused by the floods and landslide.
According to meteorologists, parts of western and northern Macedonia, including the capital Skopje, would expect rains and stronger wind in the following couple of days.