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Slovenia, Austria Floods Leave 3 Dead

Torrential rain struck the two countries overnight, causing severe floods and mudslides. The severe weather cut off several villages, sparked evacuations and closed major roads and rail lines.

Three people were killed after a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours caused floods and landslides in northeastern and central Slovenia and southern Austria, authorities said Friday.

Flood alert sirens sounded off in Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, along with Maribor and Celje, after the country’s environment agency put out the highest “red alert”  because of the heavy showers that began overnight.

The bodies of two foreign tourists were found in a mountain area and a woman was found in another flooded area, police spokeswoman Maja Adlesic told AFP news agency.

No injuries were reported in Austria.

Several towns and villages were inundated with flood waters in both Austria and SloveniaImage: FEUERWEHR GNAS/APA/dpa/picture alliance

Highways, rail lines shuttered

A freeway in Slovenia that bridges Ljubljana with the northern part of the country had to be shut down along with some rail lines, news site N1 Info reported. Waters from overflowing rivers damaged bridges and several homes.   

Some 16,000 households suffered power cuts and several villages were reported to be inaccessible.

“The situation is serious,” Defence Minister Marjan Sarec told local media, adding that the army had joined rescue and fire teams to help residents in the most affected areas.

“Some areas are completely cut off and communication is also difficult,” the country’s civil protection chief Srecko Sestan said.

The official STA news agency reported evacuations in several parts of the country, including campsites.

Authorities in the scenic central town of Kamnik urged people to stay in their homes and closed preschools for the day.

Regional civil protection commander Klemen Smid said the “entire [northwestern] Gorenjska [region] is underwater.”

Rescuers struggled to reach flooded areas and issued a public call for dinghies in places where roads were impassable due to landslides.

Roads were blocked and landslides threatened further damage around the central town of Skofja Loka, STA said. More than 100 buildings were flooded, including a sports hall. Helicopters evacuated people trapped in their homes, and vehicles and trucks were submerged or carried away by torrents, local media reported.

STA said the Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief registered over 1,000 weather-related incidents in Slovenia in a 12-hour period.

The torrential rains also brought floods and mudslides to southern AustriaImage: Gert Eggenberger/APA/dpa/picture alliance

Austrian residents told to stay home

In Austria, roads to some villages in the southern state of Carinthia were disrupted, local authorities said. 

The Völkermarkt district lying near the border of Slovenia was severely impacted by the heavy rainfall. 

Local officials called on people to refrain from driving unless necessary.

Residents of the southern Carinthian village of Sankt Paul im Lavanttal were urged to stay in high places and stay away from basements and bridges. 

Firefighters were called in to pump water and clear fallen trees caused by flooding.

According to Energie Steiermark, an Austrian energy supply company, around 4,000 households were without electricity on Friday morning.

In some parts of Austria, 70 liters of rain per square meter were measured overnightImage: Gert Eggenberger/APA/dpa/picture alliance

Several transborder crossings between Austria and Slovenia were shut down, including the Loibl Pass. Traffic instead went through the Karawanks motorway tunnel, the Austrian Automobile Club ÖAMTC said.  

Croatia and Bosnia could be next

Forecasters say the heavy rains will last for the next 24 hours at least and are expected to spread to neighboring Croatia and Bosnia further to the south.

Earlier this summer, severe weather damaged homes, brought down thousands of trees and left one dead in Slovenia and four others elsewhere in the region. 

The extreme weather conditions are partially brought on by the impact of climate change, experts say.

This summer, European countries such as Greece and Spain have witnessed record temperatures and devastating fires. 

Source : DW