The Hitrino Inferno: Financial Aid Increasing, Extent of Damage Huge

Written by on December 14, 2016 in Bulgaria, Latest - No comments

Four days after one of the worst train accidents in Bulgarian history, which led to a huge gas tank explosion, the public learned more about the extent of the damage in the village of Hitrino. Authorities in Sofia said, a total of 26 houses and buildings were destroyed in the blast on Saturday morning.

The number of Hitrino inhabitants who lost their lives in the blast stands at seven. On Monday, authorities had mentioned eight dead, but that number was revised. Twenty-nine people are injured. Some of them are still in critical condition.

New, shocking photos from the scene of the accident, which were released by the government, show the scope of the destruction caused by the explosion. Parts of the village look like a war zone.

One of the derailed freight train cars with a gas tank in Hitrino. Photo: Ministry of the Interior.

On Tuesday, experts and firefighters had managed to drain ten of a total of twelve gas tanks, which were transported by the derailed train, apart from the tank which exploded. A gas leak turned out to be an issue, but according to the government, inhabitants in the neighbouring villages were not in danger. Strong winds hampered the operations on site.

During a visit to Hitrino, Bulgarian Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov made clear that speeding was the leading suspected cause of the accident, but the investigation continues. According to Tsatsarov, the catastrophe was definitely not caused deliberately.

Hitrino, three days after the explosion. Photo: Ministry of the Interior.

In the meantime, a lot of financial and other help was collected and promised to the village of Hitrino and its inhabitants. Bulgarian National Radio reported, a construction company based in the town of Ruse had announced, it was going to help rebuilding the 26 houses which were destroyed.

Also, Bulgarian expats in London have started fund-raising activities. The same applies to British expats in Veliko Tarnovo, as well as Muslim and Jewish communities in Bulgaria. The Jewish organization Shalom said in a statement, donations for Hitrino could be brought to its Sofia office at Boulevard Aleksandar Stamboliski 50, or transferred to the following bank account. Account holder: Shalom, “Helping the victims in the village of Hitrino” (Подпомагане на пострадалите в с. Хитрино). IBAN: BG98TTBB94001526938090. SWIFT: BG98TTBB. Bank: Societe Generale Expressbank.

The Bulgarian Red Cross had started its fund-raising campaign for the victims and their families on Sunday. Yesterday morning, they had collected more that 900,000 Leva. Most of those donations were made by SMS messages to the number 1466 (in all mobile networks within Bulgaria).

Also, the Bulgarian Construction Chamber pledged help. So did the Chamber of Architects and the Union of Architects. The Bulgarian government had announced an aid package in the amount of 10 million Leva on Monday. On Tuesday, the European Commission announced aid amounting to 20 million Leva, according to the Bulgarian Minister of Agriculture, Dessislava Taneva.

The kind of solidarity shown by people who donated and organized fund-raising campaigns, and by both authorities and businesses, is unprecedented. The recovery and healing will obviously be the most difficult part, while there will probably not be a lack of funds for the reconstruction and the victim’s next of kin.

By Imanuel Marcus

In cooperation with The Sofia Globe.





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