Bulgaria’s Smolyan declares emergency, under ‘Code Red’ weather alert

The municipalities of Smolyan and Chepelare in southern Bulgaria declared a state of emergency on June 28 after heavy rainfall over the past 24 hours resulted in raised river levels and flooding, Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) reported.

The country’s meteorology institute upgraded the weather alert for the district of Smolyan to “Code Red”, issued in cases of forecast extreme weather that poses high levels of danger to health and property.

River levels in Smolyan district were rising as a result of the heavy rainfall, with several dams releasing excess water to prevent overflows, but there was no immediate danger to any residents, BNR quoted deputy district governor Adrian Petrov as saying.

In Chepelare and Smolyan, the rising river levels resulted in flooding of nearby houses and roads, but no people were in danger, the BNR report said.

Emergency response teams were working on clean-up to prevent further flooding, given the forecast for more heavy rainfall in the area. The Defence Ministry said that a detachment of mountaineer troops were deployed to assist with building temporary levees to stem the flooding in Smolyan.

In some areas, the heavy rain also resulted in landslides that blocked roads, including the main road between Smolyan and Chepelare, but heavy equipment was already on site and the road was expected to be cleared for traffic later in the day, Bulgarian National Television said.

Nevertheless, motorists were advised to avoid any trips in the area unless necessary and employ caution due to the risk of further landslides and falling rocks, the district authorities said.

Bulgaria’s fire-fighting corps was on standing alert to respond to emergencies, the head of the Interior Ministry’s fire-fighting directorate Valentin Krastev said, as quoted by BNR.

The service received more than 70 calls for assistance, mainly in the districts of Plovdiv, Bourgas and Haskovo, but none required the evacuation of people, he was quoted as saying.

With Smolyan under the “Code Red” weather warning, the rest of Bulgaria remained under “Code Orange” lesser alert, save the district of Vidin in north-western Bulgaria, where the weather conditions only warranted a “Code Yellow” warning.

(Screengrab of raised river levels in Smolyan from Bulgarian National Television)



The Sofia Globe staff

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