Slovenia seeks help after fatal floods

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Slovenia has sought help from the EU and NATO after a weekend of severe and fatal flash floods.

Neighboring Austria also reported one death on Sunday as a person fell into a river. Thousands of people had to evacuate their homes and many were moved by rescue teams to safer locations through helicopters and boats.

The extreme weather that powered through on Friday started to ease on Saturday and authorities began assessing the extent of damage. Slovenia asked on Sunday for technical aid from the European Union and the NATO military alliance to help with repairing the damage caused by the floods.

The country urged the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to provide it with 30 elevators and 30 special vehicles to regulate watercourses. It also called for dispatching engineering team to man the equipment.

Slovenia also asked the EU and NATO for 30 prefabricated bridges of up to 40 meters each. NATO was also requested to provide five heavy military helicopters with at least five tons of load capacity, and 200 soldiers for protection, rescue and relief tasks. Prime Minister Robert Golob said the floods led to property damage amounting to $550 million (about €500 million).

“This is the worst natural disaster in Slovenia’s [recent] history, it has affected two-thirds of the country,” he said on Saturday after attending the National Security Council meeting.

The heavy rainfall caused widespread damage leading to the collapse of at least three bridges and mainly impacted roads and the energy infrastructure in Slovenia. Large sections of roads were left submerged under water severely impacting transportation and access to villages. Three people were found dead on Friday while the fourth person was reported dead on Saturday.

Among the deceased victims, two were Dutch climbers who died in the mountains near Kranj on Friday. At least five Dutch citizens have been missing amid extreme weather conditions, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said.

A wakeboarder on a flooded street in Klagenfurt, Austria. South-east Austria’s Styria region has been placed on high alert as the area is hit by flash floods and mudslides after heavy rains, while it’s neighbouring country of Slovenia is facing the biggest natural disaster in its history due to flash floods following heavy torrential rains. EPA-EFE/MAX SLOVENCIK

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