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Bulgaria after the heavy rainfall

Photo: BGNES

Flooded streets, yards and houses, villages and neighbourhoods cut off by land- and mudslides – this is what Bulgaria looks like 24 hours after the severe rainfall. Fortunately no loss of life has been reported. Weather conditions have now calmed down and steps are being taken to bring the situation back to normal.

In the region of Blagoevgrad , southwestern Bulgaria, the rain has stopped but temperatures have plummeted and there is a strong wind, and in many places the wet road surfaces have turned to ice, BNR’s correspondent Keti Trencheva reports. But before that happened the severe rainfall, in combination with high temperatures and snowmelt, spelled trouble for people and institutions. Bridges washed away and houses flooded are just two elements of the big picture. There is severe damage along the River Mesta. For close to 6 hours a landslide cut off the road between the mountain resort of Bansko and the town of Gotse Delchev (in the vicinity of the Ilinden border check point with Greece).

The local people say that more than 80% of the embankments along the River Mesta have been breached. The result of yesterday’s calamity in the region: Landslides have been triggered, roads have collapsed or have been flooded, the water infrastructure has been breached and houses have been flooded.

Farmer Ivan Sabahlukov explains that the lower neighbourhood of the town of Hadjidimovo is flooded, and there are people who have nowhere to go. “The so-called embankments have been utterly destroyed,” he says. “There is no one that can put them up now, they cost an awful lot of money.” Sabahlukov says that thousands of tons of gravel are being mined from the river, and that is where the problem lies, there is no other reason. “We are in God’s hands now,” he adds, “resigned to our fate.”

The mayor of Strumyani municipality Emil Iliev says he will lift the partial state of emergency today. The 24-hour surveillance of the rivers and dams throughout Blagoevgrad region continues.

In southeastern Bulgaria the situation continues to be worrying. Traffic along the road connecting the Black Sea towns of Burgas and Primorsko has been restored. The rain has now stopped. Veleka River, which swelled during the night, flooded the road to Sinemorets, BNR’s correspondent Daniela Kostadinova reports. No people have been reported destitute, but gardens and basements have been flooded. The good news is that the water level of Kamchia dam has risen significantly, which is why deputy regional governor Vladimir Krumov says he is hoping there will be no water crisis in summer, as the locals have been warning.

All 10 municipalities in the region of the town of Smolyan, southern Bulgaria were affected by the severe rainfall which has now stopped.  The municipalities of Dospat and Madan in the Rhodope Mountain remain in a partial state of emergency. The remediation activities for eliminating landslides continue today for providing access to the villages and neighbourhoods affected. The municipalities are covering the damage using their own funds but they are hoping to see help from the state, the mayors are commenting. The rivers’ water levels have gone down considerably. The roads from the national road network have been processed, there is no danger of landslides. However, there is fog, BNR’s correspondent Radostina Chernokova reports.

A rockslide restricted traffic along the road between the mountain towns of Veligrand and Surnitsa, municipality mayor Nebi Bozov told the BNR:

“The crews from the regional motor vehicle department have cleared the road but the landslide still has to be cleared away.”

In Velingrad the situation is also going back to normal. All rivers and water bodies are under 24-hour surveillance. “We believe that at this point the public need to be reassured, their safety and health are not at risk,” Atanas Paligarov, chair of the crisis headquarters said for the BNR.

The controlled discharge of water from three dams in the region of the town of Pleven, north central Bulgaria begins today. The aim is to maintain a free volume of water in the dams, preventing emergencies which create a risk of flooding. As air temperatures plummeted in many parts of Bulgaria snow came in place of the rain. In this regard people planning to travel must be extra careful.

The earliest snow in the area fell in the town of Tutrakan on the Danube where the snow cover thickness has reached around 10 cm. The roads from the national road network in northeastern Bulgaria have been cleared of snow down to the asphalt as the snow has begun to melt, the regional motor vehicles department has reported.

The weather forecast is for occasional snow showers until the end of the week.

Reporting by BNR’s country correspondents

Editing by Elena Karkalanova

Photos: BGNES

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