Bad weather on December 13 posed a risk to plans to use special cranes to remove gas tanks remaining in Bulgaria’s north-eastern village of Hitrino following the fatal gas tank transporter train there three days earlier.
Prime Minister Boiko Borissov was expected to visit the village on December 13 with representatives of the Construction Chamber and to discuss plans to replace houses destroyed in the blast.
Apart from the seven deaths and close to 30 serious injuries caused in the December 10 explosion and fire, a total of 26 houses and other buildings were destroyed.
Restrictions on access to Hitrino were tightened on December 13 because of the especially hazardous nature of the operation to use the cranes to remove the gas tanks.
Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova said that work on the clearance operation had continued through the night.
Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov was expected to visit Hitrino on December 13 and give more details about the investigation into the accident.
Transport Minister Ivailo Moskovski gave an assurance that all necessary logistics were in place for the operations planned for December 13.
National fire chief Nikolai Nikolov said that 10 of the 12 damaged gas tanks had been drained, but there was still a leak and everything possible was being done to limit it.
Nikolov warned that the wind was creating problems for plans to use the cranes.
The head of the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Waters in Shoumen, Evelina Shishmanova, said that the outflow of gas from the tanks was not reaching neighbouring villages. There was no danger to the population, she said.
The wind could help in dispersing the gas more rapidly.
According to a report by Bulgarian National Radio, the owner of a Rousse construction company had promised to help rebuild the 26 houses lost in the disaster, using his own funds. The company owner intended to visit the village once the restrictions on access were lifted.
Bulgarian expatriates in London had begun fund-raising to assist the people of Hitrino, BNR said.
The Bulgarian Red Cross said on December 13 that by 10am, the amount of funds raised for Hitrino through its campaign added up to 903 659 leva (about 462 464 euro). Of this sum, 817 279 had come from donations made via text messages to the number 1466.
(Photos: Interior Ministry)