Clean-up operations in Slovenia were in full flow Saturday after torrential rains and severe floods brought havoc to the Alpine country in its worst natural disaster since independence, officials said.
As heavy rainfall started to ease, with the weather situation gradually normalizing, the extent of the damage caused by the devastating floods was assessed.
“This is the worst natural disaster in Slovenia’s (recent) history, it has affected two-thirds of the country,” Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob said after Saturday’s National Security Council meeting.
The scale of the damage from the floods is estimated to exceed half a billion euros, Golob said.
Flash floods and landslides caused by heavy rainfall that started Thursday had submerged large swaths of central and northern Slovenia, cutting off access to villages and disrupting traffic.
So far at least three people — two Dutch citizens and a Slovenian — have died, Slovenian news agency STA reported, with authorities retrieving a man’s body on the outskirts of Ljubljana on the banks of the Sava river Saturday.
“According to initial information, his death might have been caused by the floods,” STA quoted a police statement as saying.
The Krsko nuclear power plant next to the swelling Sava River terminated the notice of “unusual event” declared late Friday, after the river’s level had lowered again.
The town of Crna na Koroskem, some 100 kilometers north of the capital, was one the worst hit and remained cut off, as aid and assistance had to be air-lifted by army helicopters.
Closer to the capital in the town of Kamnik, where a Slovenian woman had reportedly died in the floods, many roads were still closed, with several areas cut off.
In the nearby village of Menges, which severely flooded on Friday, rescue workers and residents were busy cleaning up.
“First we heard a siren, then another, and then it was like a tsunami,” a man in his 50s standing in front of his damaged house told AFP.
“Water just poured in through the kitchen rapidly… our only solution was to take the children to the upper floor and wait to be rescued,” Mateja Hribar Ziherl, head of the flooded local kindergarten, told AFP.