LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenia has faced the worst-ever natural disaster in its history, Prime Minister Robert Golob said Saturday, after devastating floods caused damage estimated at half a billion euros ($550 million).
Devastating floods on Thursday and Friday killed three people and destroyed roads, bridges and houses in the small Alpine country. Two thirds of the territory had been affected, Golob said.
The floods were “the biggest natural disaster” in Slovenia’s history, Golob said after a meeting of the country’s National Security Council on Saturday. “Luckily, last night was easier than the one before.”
After three weather-related deaths were reported on Friday, Slovenian media said on Saturday that one more person was found dead in the capital Ljubljana. Police are yet to confirm the report.
The floods were caused by torrential rains on Friday which caused rivers to swell swiftly and burst into houses, fields and towns. Slovenia’s weather service said a month’s worth of rain fell in less than a day.
Experts say extreme weather conditions are partly fueled by climate change. Parts of Europe saw record heat and battled wildfires during the summer.
Golob said road and energy infrastructure were hit particularly hard, as well as hundreds of homes and other buildings. Thousands of people have been forced to evacuate their homes and many had to be rescued by helicopters or firefighters in boats.
Slovenia’s army has joined the relief effort, with troops reaching cut off areas in the north to help.
Photos from the scene showed entire villages under water, outdoor camping sites destroyed, cars stuck in mud and children’s toys crammed against fences.
The STA news agency reported that major roads in parts of Slovenia also remained partially closed on Saturday because of the flooding, including the main highway through the country. Dozens of bridges have also collapsed, and the authorities urged people not to go anywhere until damage is fully assessed.
Several severe storms in the Alpine nation earlier in the summer blew off roofs, downed thousands of trees and killed one person in Slovenia and four others elsewhere in the region.
Flash floods were reported also in neighboring Austria, where some 80 people were forced temporarily to leave their homes in the southern Carinthia province.