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Torrential rain and flash floods ravage Slovenia, killing at least 3 people and forcing evacuations

Heavy rains have caused flash floods and landslides in parts of Slovenia, killing at least three people

Ali Zerdin
Friday 04 August 2023 14:30 BST

Torrential rains and heavy floods ravaged Slovenia on Friday, killing at least three people, cutting off roads and bridges, surging into buildings and forcing evacuations.

Slovenia's environmental agency, ARSO, raised the weather alert to the highest level after a month's amount of rain fell within 24 hours in northern, northwestern and central parts of the country.

As rain continued to fall Friday, authorities warned of more floods in other areas because of swiftly swelling rivers.

Slovenian police told the official STA news agency that three people have died since bad weather started late on Thursday evening: a Slovenian woman died in the central town of Kamnik, and two Dutch nationals in a mountainous area near the city of Kranj.

“The death in Kamnik could have been caused by flooding, while the deaths in the mountains could have been caused by a lightning strike," said police official Maja Adlešič Ciperle. “The circumstances of the deaths are still being established.”

Army soldiers helped emergency personnel in the recovery effort.

"I urge all those who don’t have an urgent errand to run to stay at home, and not to drive anywhere,” Defense Minister Marjan Sarec said.

Photos in local media showed submerged cars, cracked roads and entire villages flooded. Rescuers could be seen carrying out children from a blocked kindergarten while helicopters lifted people who climbed onto the roofs of their flooded homes.

President Natasa Pirc Musar expressed condolences to the families of the victims, urging citizens to “stay connected and support and help each other in these challenging times, and take care of older people and other vulnerable individuals who need our help and support.”

Prime Minister Robert Golob cut short his summer vacation because of the floods.

The Alpine nation was hit by several severe storms earlier in the summer that blew off roofs, downed thousands of trees and killed one person in Slovenia and four others elsewhere in the region.

Experts say extreme weather conditions are partly fueled by climate change. Parts of Europe saw record heat and battled wildfires during the summer.

Authorities closed a section of a main motorway for traffic on Friday and sought to direct transit traffic to neighboring Italy or Austria. The state motorway agency DARS said “all trapped drivers and their passengers should wait for the emergency teams and follow their instructions.”

Floods overnight Thursday to Friday also blocked roads around Kamnik, where authorities urged people to stay in their homes and closed kindergartens for the day. The official STA news agency reported evacuations in several parts of the country, including camping sites.

About 16,000 households were left without electricity, STA said. Bad weather also disrupted rail services, and the country's main, NLB bank, said its offices in flood-hit areas will remain closed.

Landslides were reported in the northwest Gorenjska region. Regional civil protection commander Klemen Smid said the “entire Gorenjska is under water.”

More than 100 buildings, including a sports hall, were flooded in the central area around the town of Skofja Loka where roads were blocked and landslides threatened to cause further damage, STA said.

Authorities also urged people in the western town of Idrija not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary.

The Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief recorded more than 1,000 weather-related incidents within 12 hours across the country, STA said.

Throughout the night, firefighters were busy pumping water from flooded buildings, rescuing flooded vehicles, removing debris from under bridges and securing landslides, the administration said.

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