Bulgaria: Emergency meeting of Cabinet as heavy snowfalls, strong winds cause disruptions

Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov called an emergency meeting of the Cabinet on the morning of November 26 because of the severe winter situation in the country, after heavy snowfalls and strong winds caused widespread disruptions.

Weather warnings were in place in several districts in Bulgaria on Sunday, including four districts that were subject to the highest level, the Code Red warning of very dangerous weather.

Overnight, lorries were banned from the Trakia, Hemus and Struma motorways as snow-clearing machines were deployed.

In mountain passes and other important thoroughfares, matters were complicated by drivers of cars and lorries who were stranded after failing to heed warnings not to travel unless their vehicles were ready for winter conditions. On Saturday morning, the Interior Ministry had urged people to call off all non-essential travel.

The Pass of the Republic and Shipka Pass were closed to all vehicles in the early hours of November 26 because of heavy snowfall and large numbers of fallen trees.

Sofia mayor Vassil Terziev said on the morning of November 26 that there had been close to 15 hours of intense snowfall in the city, and the teams from the municipality’s services had been working continuously though the night to clear the snow, remove fallen street and respond to hundreds of alerts.

Emergency teams had cleared away more than 150 fallen branches and trees and there had been more than 1000 reports of fallen trees, he said.

There were power cuts in parts of Sofia and villages nearby the city on Saturday night.

Because of strong winds, the port of Varna was closed to shipping. Varna municipality has been in a state of emergency since being hard-hit by gale-force winds last weekend.

Bulgarian National Television reported that the Varna – Dobrich road was closed, while on other roads to and from Varna, there were restrictions on goods lorries.

Flights to and from Varna up to noon had been cancelled, the report said.

Bulgarian National Radio reported on Sunday that because of strong winds, two villages near Bourgas had power cuts.

BNT said on the morning of November 26 that all main roads in the direction of Rousse from Veliko Turnovo, Silistra and Razgrad were closed.

A large part of the settlements in the district had no electricity. Because of the high winds last night and the wet snow that was still falling, there are many downed wires.

There were fallen trees and branches on all the streets of Rousse, which was making movement difficult. They were being removed by teams from the municipality and the fire department, the report said.

In Plovdiv, the firefighting department’s operations centre had received more than 300 calls in the past 24 hours requesting assistance and more than 100 cars had been damaged by fallen branches, local media said.

The website of Bulgaria’s Road Infrastructure Agency was offline on Sunday morning.

(Photo, of the mountain resort town of Bansko on the night of November 25: Lance Nelson of Bansko App)

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