Situation Still Critical in Parts of Bulgaria with Heavy Snowfall and Strong Wind

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Situation Still Critical in Parts of Bulgaria with Heavy Snowfall and Strong Wind

The situation remains critical in some parts of the country on Thursday due to heavy snowfall and strong wind. Several municipalities in the North of Bulgaria have declared a state of emergency. Mountain passes and roads across the country are still closed to traffic. In Sofia, the airport is back to normal operation after most inbound and outbound flights were canceled on Wednesday due to bad weather.

The lowlands have a snow cover of 20 to 45 cm and the highlands of 50-60 cm.

Rescue teams of the Ministry of Disaster Management Policy have been sent to where the situation is worst, including the municipalities of Koubrat, Rousse, Slivo Pole and Vetovo in the North and Stara Zagora in the South. Medical teams have been sent to the snow-bound areas to help the sick, especially haeomodialysis patients. The army has provided chain vehicles to evacuate people shut in by heavy snow in the villages of Seltsi, Slivito and Boroushtitsa in the southern Stara Zagora Region.

On the initiative of the Disaster Management Policy Minister Emel Etem, up-to-the-minute information on the extreme weather situation in the country will be provided to senior officials including the President, the Prime Minister, the Ministers of Interior, Defense and Health, and to the Chief of General Staff of the Bulgarian Armed Forces. Reports will include detailed information on the regions affected by the snowfall and on all measures taken, Etem's Ministry said in a press release. According to it, regional capitals in Eastern Bulgaria are experiencing the worst situation.

Rescue teams organized by the Ministry are working at full capacity to help people in towns and on roads. Rescue and support teams from other government organizations have also joined the effort.

E.ON Bulgaria emergency teams have restored power to over 150 settlements in the Northeast. They will continue to work in shifts round the clock on repair of the electricity distribution network until full normalization of the service, the company said in a press release.

By 3 p.m. on Thursday, 168 settlements were without electricity, some of them for over 24 hours, the Economy and Energy Ministry said. On Thursday Economy and Energy Minister Peter Dimitrov asked the State Energy and Water Regulatory Committee to check electricity distribution companies in connection with a "mass-scale and prolonged disconnection of power supply in certain settlements, which breaches the requirements of electricity distribution licenses," according to the Ministry's press release.

Water supply remains cut to 31 population centers.

The pass of Troyan-Kurnare, Etropole-Zlatisa, Tvurditsa-Elena, Vurbishki and Shipka in the Balkan Range are closed, as are all roads in the northeastern Dobrich area. The international road between Sofia and Bucharest has an impassable stretch near Pleven. The Sofia-Bourgas main road is closed at the Petoluchkata junction.

Sofia Airport took 25 flights on Thursday morning and 35 planes have taken off. Nine outgoing and 8 incoming flights of Bulgaria Air, Hemus Air and the Austrian Airlines were canceled but it was the carriers' decision.

The Ministry of Health opened a hot telephone line to provide the necessary medical service of the population in the complicated winter conditions, the ministry information service said.

Citizens can call the National Medical Coordination Centre in case of need to transport patients in emergency cases.

The Rousse-Varna train broke down in northeastern Bulgaria after midday and a Railways team was called out to toe the train to the town of Razgrad.

Twenty-two vessels are waiting on the leeward side of Cape Kaliakra off northeastern Bulgaria for conditions to improve before they can come in to dock, the hydrometeorological station at the cape has reported. The sea has remained at wave grade 5 for two days with wind speeds of 16-18 m/s and even reaching 20 m/s from the north-west. Maritime visibility is low - around 1,500 metres.

All ports in Rousse were closed throughout Thursday due to the wind and snow, and four vessels currently await permission to dock and unload their cargo, Port of Rousse authorities reported. Most Bulgarian-registered river vessels are currently docked at Rousse, Bulgarian River Shipping has reported.

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