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Record Floods Ravage Slovenia, Pm Calls It ‘worst’ Disaster in Its History

Torrential rains cause flooding that affect two-thirds of the country as Prime Minister Robert Golob calls it ‘the biggest natural disaster’ in its history.

Slovenia has faced “the biggest natural disaster” in its history, Prime Minister Robert Golob said on Saturday, after devastating floods caused damage estimated at 500 million euros ($550m), killed three people and destroyed roads, bridges and houses.

Speaking after a meeting of the country’s National Security Council on Saturday, Golob said, “Luckily, last night was easier than the one before”, adding that two-thirds of the small Alpine nation’s territory had been affected.

A collapsed bridge is seen in the village of Stahovica, near the town of Kamnik, Slovenia, August 4, 2023 [Miro Majcen/AP Photo]

Record rainfall

The floods were caused by torrential rains on Friday, which caused rivers to swell swiftly and burst into houses, fields and towns. Slovenia’s weather service said a month’s equivalent of rain fell in less than a day.

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

Golob said road and energy infrastructure were hit particularly hard, as well as hundreds of homes and other buildings. Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes, and many had to be rescued by helicopters or firefighters in boats.

Slovenia’s army has joined the relief effort, with troops reaching cut-off areas in the north to help.

Photos from the scene showed entire villages underwater, outdoor camping sites destroyed, cars stuck in mud and children’s toys crammed against fences.

The aftermath of the flood in Nazarje, Slovenia, August 5, 2023 [Borut Zivulovic/Reuters]

The STA news agency reported that main roads in parts of Slovenia also remained partially closed on Saturday because of the flooding, including the main highway through the country. Dozens of bridges have also collapsed, and the authorities urged people not to go anywhere until damage is fully assessed.

After three weather-related deaths were reported on Friday, Slovenian media said on Saturday that one more person was found dead in the capital, Ljubljana. Police are yet to confirm the report.

Several severe storms in Slovenia earlier in the summer blew off roofs and downed thousands of trees.

Extreme weather across Europe

Saturday’s storms mark just the latest episode in what has been a summer blighted by extreme heatwaves, flooding and landslides across Europe.

Flash floods were reported in Austria, which neighbours Slovenia, on Saturday. About 80 people were forced temporarily to leave their homes in the southern Carinthia province.

At least 16 people were killed, and dozens were missing after a landslide at a resort town in northwestern Georgia, Shovi – famed for its vast forests and mineral water springs, officials said on Saturday.

The landslide occurred on Thursday in the mountainous northwest of Georgia.

“Sixteen bodies have been found in the disaster area, and their identification is under way,” said Teimuraz Mghebrishvili from the interior ministry.

Images showed rescue workers picking through debris while teams worked to shift the soil.

Last month, three people died in Serbia during another deadly storm that tore through the Balkans.

Source : Al Jazeera