Death toll in Bulgaria’s Hitrino explosion rises to eight

The number of dead as a result of the gas transporter train explosion in the north-eastern Bulgarian village of Hitrino has increased to eight, with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov announcing the finding of the body of an 18-year-old man buried under the rubble of the railway station.

The 18-year-old, from the nearby village of Timarevo, was found after a call to emergency number 112 that he had not come home.

Borissov told journalists on December 11, the day after the explosion, that he expected the process of securing the area to take 10 days.

He said that the first gas tank that had to be emptied had been drained. The other tanks were yet to be emptied.

Earlier on December 11, the Interior Ministry urged people not to try to come to the area because of gas leaks. On Saturday, specialists from Neftochim Bourgas were asked to come to Hitrino to work on the dangerous task of emptying the tanks. A full evacuation of the village was carried out.

Borissov said that he hoped that after the completion of the process within 10 days, people would be able to return to their homes.

“I spoke with each of the firefighters, the work must be done carefully because a spark from a hot stone could cause an explosion,” Borissov said.

The firefighters and the drivers of the large tanks for the drained gas were working at great risk to their lives.

The Prime Minister said that two cranes from Romania were awaited so that they could be used to lift the empty tanks. Work would proceed around the clock, Borissov said.

The process was slow because great care was needed not to put the lives of rescuers and those involved in the cleanup at risk. Draining a tank took about three hours. Hot stones were being covered with foam and water to avoid the risk of sparks.

“We cannot risk the lives of the boys who’re working, they have families that are thinking about them,” Borissov said.

Borissov gave an assurance that homes lost in the massive explosion would be replaced. The Construction Chamber and private companies had offered assistance, he said.

Money would be transferred to the municipality after information was received from the mayor of Hitrino, he said.

The Construction Chamber had offered to build three houses, he said. It was possible that this could include replacement buildings for the municipality and the police station, which were destroyed in the December 10 blast.

(Photo: Interior Ministry)




The Sofia Globe staff

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