Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry has urged people to stay away from the village of Hitrino, site of a gas tank transporter train explosion that left seven dead and 29 injured, because gas leaks from two container tanks are complicating the situation.
The regional governor of Shoumen, Donka Ivanova, has declared a state of emergency in Hitrino.
Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova said on December 11 that leaks from two gas tanks were complicating the situation “and this requires thinking through decisions more carefully, to prevent any risks, even at the cost of taking longer to complete the task”.
On December 10, it was announced that specialists from Neftochim Bourgas were being brought in to carry out a gas transfer operation. On Sunday, it emerged that there were leaks from two unexploded tanks.
Interior Ministry chief secretary Georgi Kostov said on December 11 that the situation had really exacerbated compared to Saturday night, when there was a leak from a single tank.
Buchvarova said that people who had been evacuated and other members of the public should not try to enter the area, “be patient and do not try to reach the danger zones”.
“The first priority is to ensure the safety of people who currently carry out the draining of tanks. Everything else is secondary,” Buchvarova said.
Kostov said that a way would be found to feed the animals still in the area.
“Our main concern is that there should be no risk for the people who have to deal with this situation. On site are the best professionals, who are volunteers, and who are now risking their lives,” Kostov said.
The Interior Ministry said that there had been attempts to pass the cordon around the village, and these had been stopped.
Bulgarian-language media reported that victims of the explosion would be buried in neighbouring villages on December 11.
Bulgaria’s government has declared December 12 a day of national mourning for the victims of the Hitrino explosion.
(Photos: Bulgarian Interior Ministry)