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£20bn needed to repair damage

WAR DAMAGE to Serbia has been estimated at more than £20bn by a leading group of Yugoslavian economists.

The G-17 economists group predicted that repairing transport and utility infrastructure alone could cost as much £500M.

Seven bridges over the Danube have been destroyed. Three of these are in the town of Novi Sad, including a major rail bridge that carried the main Budapest to Belgrade railway.

Two other railway bridges south of the capital have also been destroyed, as has one connecting Serbia with Romania.

Only two Danube crossings remain: the Belgrade bridge in the country's capital and a minor road crossing which runs over a dam. The destroyed bridges have made the Danube unnavigable, causing huge disruption to trade.

Industrial facilities, particularly those manufacturing goods for the war effort, were heavily targeted by Nato bombers. The cost of reconstructing damaged industrial buildings alone could run to £2bn, according to G-17.

Non-industrial buildings received relatively little damage and reconstruction is estimated at £250M. The greatest loss to the nation's wealth comes through the predicted 44% downturn in industrial output.

There are no estimates yet for damage to military targets.

G-17 claims £750M will be needed over the next five months to make emergency repairs to power supplies, housing and transport links.

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