May 18 - Pope Francis expresses his ''personal closeness'' to the victims of heavy flooding in the Balkans, during his weekly Sunday prayer. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Rescue efforts are underway as the Balkans have been hit by the worst flooding in more than a century. At least 20 people have been killed in Serbia and Bosnia. Tens of thousands are without electricity. Russia and Europe have joined the relief effort and in Vatican City Pope Francis is offering his prayers. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) POPE FRANCIS, SAYING: "Severe floods have devastated large areas of the Balkans -- above all in Serbia in Bosnia. While I entrust to the Lord the victims of such disasters, I express my personal closeness to those living through hours of anguish and tribulation. Let us pray together for these brothers and sisters experiencing a great difficulty" As rescue efforts address the immediate crisis authorities also warn of the longer term impact of the floods -- which are expected to devastate the agricultural sector -- vital to the region's economies.