Bulgaria on Emergency Situation Brink over Winter StormEnvironment | October 18, 2011, Tuesday // 13:08| views
Scores of buses, trucks, and cars are still blocked in southern, central and eastern Bulgaria Tuesday after an early winter storm hit the country. Photo by BGNES
The heavy snowfall in the last two days, accompanied by gusty winds and fallen trees and branches are causing a nearly critical situation in Bulgaria, according to the Head of the Road Infrastructure Agency, Lazar Lazarov.
Lazarov spoke Tuesday during an emergency press conference. He informed that all Stara Planina mountain passes are closed for traffic as a safety measure to avoid vehicles being stuck in the snow, in exception of Vitinya on the Hemus highway and the Pomorie pass on the Nessebar-Byala road in eastern Bulgaria.
Scores of buses, trucks, and cars are still blocked in southern, central and eastern Bulgaria Tuesday where huge traffic jams are reported. Hurricane-like winds have swept 6 automobiles in the Black Sea city of Varna.
The Bulgarian news agency BTA reports that 6 buses with Romanian tourists are blocked in the Stara Planina Mountain Pass of the Republic where the snow cover has reached 60 cm. Teams of Civil Defense are on their way, but they cannot get in touch with the people in distress since there is no cell phone coverage in the area. Overnight, the teams pulled an ambulance which was stuck in the snow in the same pass.
3 buses from Sofia have also been rescued from the snow near the village of Balvan in the vicinity of the central city of Veliko Tarnovo.
The continuing snow and the large amount of fallen branches and trees are impeding cleaning and rescue efforts of teams who have worked all through the night and all morning.
The ports of Varna and of the other Black Sea city of Burgas are closed. Schools are also closed in Varna and in several coastal towns such as Balchik. Most Burgas schools, however, are holding classes.
Over the inclement weather, the entire eastern Bulgaria has been disconnected from the country's electric power network and electricity is currently provided only by the Varna Thermal Power Plant. Hundreds of locations in the regions of Burgas, Varna, Veliko Tarnovo. Dobrich, Kardzhali, Yambol. Plovdiv, Gabrovo, Stara Zagora, Sliven and Targovishte are without power.
5 express and 9 passenger trains are blocked at different railroad stations in eastern Bulgaria. At some locations the railways are impassable because of the snow cover, while at others there are power outages. Rescue teams are working in mass cleaning and repair operations.
People are advised to stay home and not undertake any travels unless there is an extreme emergency.
The State Railroads, BDZ, inform they will validate all purchased tickets for other dates or fill refund the money.
A 73-old man has died in the ambulance after being rescued from a snow blockade in the village of Lissovo, near Svilengrad and the Bulgarian-Turkish border.