Bulgaria’s coastal flood disaster: Pledges and political sniping

There are sufficient amounts in the disasters and accidents fund to cover repairs following the floods that hit Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast on Tuesday, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev told reporters on September 7.

“According to preliminary estimates that we are currently receiving, there are 12 bridges that need to be repaired, in addition to other damages, for about 20-30 million leva,” Vassilev said.

“At the moment, the available funding is more than 60 million leva in the fund for disasters and accidents,” he said.

Vassilev said that as soon as details of the damage were clear, an Interior Ministry committee would meet and funds would be allocated on an emergency basis.

“Already last year, we tasked the district governors with checking where there are uncleaned riverbeds. The preliminary information they submitted is about more than 250 sections.”

Deputy Interior Minister Stoyan Temelakiev said that the process of establishing the damage from the disaster is underway.

“The committee is ready and working to examine all the data with specific amounts of damage – so that the committee can meet, examine everything and repair the damage. The state has done what is necessary to secure this funding,” Temelakiev said.

The Defence Ministry said on September 7 that army engineering corps personnel were currently inspecting and assessing the damage to three bridge facilities in the areas affected by the large floods on September 5.

Estimates are being made for the construction of a bridge connecting the central part of Tsarevo with the Vasiliko district. After the inspections and analyzes are completed, a decision will be made with the mayor of Tsarevo municipality and representatives of the Road Infrastructure Agency to take the relevant actions, the Defence Ministry said.

“From the first day of the disaster, the Bulgarian army was ready to provide support both with personnel and with high-terrain vehicles for the evacuation of people in distress, delivery of basic necessities and water to those in need, transport of various cargoes. Representatives of the Armed Forces are participating in the meetings of the crisis staff,” the ministry said.

A European Commission spokesperson said on September 7 that Bulgaria had requested help from the Copernicus satellite system, from which the EC was providing images of the Bourgas area.

So far, Bulgaria had not requested the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in response to the floods in Tsarevo, the spokesperson said.

Should Bulgaria activate the mechanism, everything possible will be done to react as quickly as possible and that this could be done within a few hours, he said.

In Parliament, minority parties seized on the floods to criticise the government, with pro-Kremlin Vuzrazhdane party leader Kostadin Kostadinov citing Bulgaria’s donation of – decades-old and never-used – police armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine. “We said that this equipment is important to us,” Kostadinov said.

The armoured personnel carriers were acquired decades ago by the communist regime of Bulgaria of the time to quell riots.

Kornelia Ninova, leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the second-smallest group in Parliament, said – referring to the heavy rainfall that deluged the southern coast on Tuesday: “Three hundred and thirty litres a square metre is an objective reason, but there are also many subjective ones. Above all corruption.”

The parliamentary leader of the National Assembly’s largest group, Dessislava Atanassova of GERB-UDF, said that Ninova was criticising herself, having been a deputy prime minister.

“To speculate politically when a day of mourning has been declared in populated areas in Bulgaria is unacceptable to me,” Atanassova said.

The presidency, which near-daily hits out that pro-Western government that was elected into office in Bulgaria in June, also exploited the disaster, with vice president Iliana Yotova saying on September 6: “I strongly hope that this is not another case where people suffer because of government negligence”.

(Photo: government.bg)

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