By noon on December 16, a third gas tank had been removed from Bulgaria’s north-eastern village of Hitrino, site of a fatal explosion six days earlier that left seven people dead, close to 30 injured and that caused widespread damage to houses.
The removal of the gas tanks, a highly dangerous process, followed the emptying of the tanks earlier this week.
Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova and national fire chief Nikolai Nikolov personally inspected the organisation and pace of the operation, the Interior Ministry said.
The cordoning-off the village will remain in place until all the gas tanks have been removed. It remains unclear when residents of Hitrino will be allowed to return to their homes.
Bulgarian National Television reported on December 16 that tension was growing, as Hitrino’s villagers were losing patience
They are angry and want to go home. They say that they will not interfere with the rescue operation. They fear that thieves will get into their houses because, they believe, the village is not being properly guarded, the report said.
Hitrino’s villagers are demanding that the results of daily checks on air quality are shared with them, not only reported to official institutions.
The Interior Ministry has said daily that people should not attempt to enter the village because the level of risk throughout the cleanup operation remains extremely high.
(Photos: Bulgarian Interior Ministry)