Bulgaria’s heavy snowfall crisis: States of emergency, school closures in some places

A number of districts and municipalities in Bulgaria declared states of emergency on November 26 following the weekend’s heavy snowfalls and strong winds that caused severe traffic disruptions, widespread power cuts and other damage.

There were numerous reports of downed trees and broken power cables countrywide, while traffic conditions were aggravated by drivers who had ignored calls not to embark on journeys unless their vehicles were prepared for winter conditions.

Places to have declared a state of emergency on Sunday included the districts of Silistra and Razgrad, Vulchi Dol municipality in the Varna district, the district of Shoumen with the exception of the city of Shoumen, and the municipalities of Tryavna, Kubrat, Kotel, Sevlievo, Borovo, Byala, Vetovo, Dve Mogili, Ivanovo, Slivo Pole, Antonovo and Tsenovo.

Some places have announced that on November 27, schools will be closed, including in the municipalities of Veliko Turnovo, Sevlievo and Shoumen.

As of the late afternoon of November 26, an estimated 800 000 households in Bulgaria had no electricity, including several parts of Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia.

The Road Infrastructure Agency said that snow was continuing to fall in Rousse, Razgrad, Shoumen, Dobrich, Sliven, Gabrovo, Silistra and Stara Zagora.

The agency said that the Troyan, Shipka, Kotlen and Rishki passes were closed to all motor vehicles.

The Pass of the Republic was open to motor vehicles up to 3.5 tons.

Traffic had been temporarily stopped in the territory of the Razgrad regional road administration because of snowfall, snow removal operations and numerous fallen trees, the agency said.

The areas where the most alerts of fallen trees had been received were Vratsa, Veliko Turnovo, Gabrovo, Razgrad, Varna, Stara Zagora and Dobrich.

The Defence Ministry said on November 26 that Bulgarian Army personnel and equipment had joined in dealing with the consequences of the worsening weather conditions.

According to state railways BDZ, several trains were delayed and more than 60 trains were cancelled.

The train from Varna to Sofia was stopped at Gorna Oryahovitsa. Traffic through the Iskar gorge has been unblocked, but Dupnitsa – Blagoevgrad, Gorna Oryahovitsa in the direction of Varna, the trans-Balkan and sub-Balkan railway lines were still blocked on Sunday afternoon.

Rail traffic from and to Bourgas was also blocked because of fallen trees.

For November 27, the weather bureau issued the Code Yellow warning of potentially dangerous weather for four districts, because of forecast low temperatures: Blagoevgrad, Kyustendil, Pernik and Sofia city. All other districts were classified Code Green for Monday, meaning that no weather warning is in place.

(Photo: Interior Ministry)

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