Heavy snowfall in Bulgaria claims new victim as man found frozen to death

A 65-year-old man was found frozen to death in a village in Bulgaria’s southern Kurdzhali, three days after he went missing, as the country continued to grapple with huge snowfalls that have massively disrupted power supplies and caused travel chaos in parts of the country.

Sabahattin Azis had last been seen after leaving his home on the night of March 6. After he failed to return, neighbours organised a search but were foiled by deep snowdrifts.

Azis’s body was found during road snow-clearing operations, local media said.

Hazardous conditions created by the mammoth snowfalls claimed three lives on March 8, when three skiers from Sofia died in an avalanche on the Pirin mountain.

Reports on March 9 said that a man was missing in the village of Kremene, in the Smolyan region – one of those hardest-hit by the snow and where an emergency was declared two days earlier.

The man’s spouse said that on March 8, he had gone to check on livestock at a barn outside the village but had not returned.

EVN, the energy distributor in southern Bulgaria, said on March 9 that power to Smolyan, Chepelare and Pamporovo had been restored.

The company said that 160 of its emergency teams were working to restore power supply in the areas affected by the heavy snowfall, in co-ordination with state institutions and the Electricity System Operator.

EVN said that in the rest of the Smolyan region, mainly in the municipalities of Roudozem, Madan and Banite, the situation remained serious, because many roads were blocked, there were fallen trees and ESO substations offline.

For the same reasons, there were difficulties in restoring electricity supply in part of Pazardzhik, Velingrad and Batak. The situation also remained serious in the Kurdzhali region, mainly in Ardino and Kirkovo, with the latter having seen nearly four metres of snowfall.

Meanwhile, on the afternoon of March 9, the municipality of Rakitovo became the latest to declare a state of emergency, having had no electricity supply since March 7. Schools and the administrative offices could not function properly for lack of heating, the mayor said.

The energy system in the country was at risk because of severe weather conditions, Energy Minister Temenuzka Petkova, announcing on March 9 that she had authorised energy restrictions.

She said that according to data provided by the energy distribution companies, as at 1pm a total of 755 settlements, mainly in south-eastern Bulgaria, had no electricity.

Eleven places in north-eastern Bulgaria and 86 on the territory served by CEZ had no electricity, Petkova said.

“I understand the concerns because of power cuts, but all we have to show understanding,” Petkova said, adding that yesterday she had issued an order to restrict the power supply, which entered into force at midnight on March 9.

(Photo: EVN)



The Sofia Globe staff

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