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Slovenia seeks help after fatal summer floods

Published August 6, 2023last updated August 6, 2023

Slovenia called for assistance and equipment from partners in the EU and NATO after a weekend of heavy summer rains and flash floods described by the PM as country’s worst natural disaster of this kind.

An aerial view of building and roads submerged under flood water in Slovenia
Thousands of people had to be evacuated as their homes were submerged under water Image: Gregor Ravnjak/AP

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.

Calls for NATO, EU support

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.

4 dead, authorities examining scope of damage

A broken road above a stream of water
Access to villages was impacted as flood water damaged many roadsImage: Ales Beno/AA/picture alliance

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 flooded bridge over the river Sulm in Slovenia
At least three bridges collapsed in Slovenia due to flash floodsImage: Erwin Scheriau/APA/dpa

One killed in Austria

Meanwhile in southern Austria, flash floods killed one person, and roughly 80 other people needed to be evacuated in the southern Carinthia province.

Officials said one person fell into the river and was quickly swept away, despite rescue attempts by firefighters, divers and water rescuers. They only managed to recover the dead body.

"Our thoughts are with the relatives of the victim. Please take good care of yourself and your fellow human beings," Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on social media. 

Austria's southern provinces of Carinthia and Styria have been heavily impacted by torrential rains, mudslides and rising rivers since Friday. Authorities evacuated several buildings.

mfa/sms (dpa, AFP, AP)