Severe weather: Slovenia and Austria: fear of landslides

Evacuated villages, a dam burst and already historic damage: Little Slovenia is struggling with the worst natural disaster in the history of the country, which has been independent since 1991.

Severe weather: Slovenia and Austria: fear of landslides

Evacuated villages, a dam burst and already historic damage: Little Slovenia is struggling with the worst natural disaster in the history of the country, which has been independent since 1991. After heavy rain and flooding, the emergency services are still on alert on Sunday due to the threat of dam breaches and landslides. Two thirds of Slovenia are affected.

There were similar pictures in southern Austria, where the danger of landslides is great after devastating rainfall, especially in Carinthia. A person was killed there. Croatia and Poland are also affected by the storms - but initially things went smoothly there. But the concern in all countries remains.


In view of the difficult conditions, Slovenia asked the EU and NATO for technical supplies to repair the damage. This was reported by the Slovenian news agency STA, citing the government. The day before, Prime Minister Robert Golob had described the floods as the biggest natural disaster in the last three decades in the EU and NATO country and estimated the total damage at more than 500 million euros. Roads, railways, bridges, sewage systems and buildings were damaged.

Through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, Slovenia requested 30 excavators of different capacities and 30 special vehicles to regulate watercourses, as well as the deployment of engineering teams for all these devices. The wish list for the EU and NATO also includes 20 prefabricated bridges of up to 40 meters in length. NATO also asked the country for five heavy military helicopters with a lifting capacity of at least five tons for transport and 200 soldiers to perform protection, rescue and assistance tasks.

There have been several thousand operations in Slovenia since Thursday, and civil protection helped in 186 locations on the night of Sunday alone. 137 firefighting units pumped water from flooded homes, cleared downed trees, rescued people from vulnerable buildings and delivered much-needed food and medicine.

Investigations into four deaths

There is no precise information on possible fatalities. In the case of four deaths, the police are investigating whether they are related to the storms. Among them were two Dutch people who were probably struck by lightning while hiking. The authorities are also looking for a missing Italian.

Of particular concern on Sunday was the rising level of the approximately 450-kilometer-long Mur, which has its source in Austria. In addition to Slovenia, the river also touches Croatia and Hungary.

As early as Saturday evening, a dam burst on the Mur in the east of the country alarmed the region, and 500 people from the village of Dolnja Bistrica were rushed to safety. The water was diverted to agricultural land and meadows, reported Miroslav Vuk, the head of the local civil protection. At the same time, attempts are being made to seal the dam with sandbags and concrete blocks weighing around two tons.

The high soil moisture makes landslides more likely, warned the Geological Survey of Slovenia. He called on the population to pay more attention to changes in the ground, buildings and slopes. Areas affected include Ljubno ob Savinji in the valley of the Savinja River, the Crna area, the Zgornje Podravje region on the Sava, the Gorenjska region 30 kilometers west of Ljubljana and Dravograd on the Drava River. Civil protection officials said there was a constant risk of landslides on the road from Dravograd to Maribor. Mayor Anton Preksavec spoke of an "apocalypse of truly biblical proportions" after a landslide there over the weekend, as STA reported.


The consequences of the devastating precipitation, some of which lasted more than 36 hours, also kept the rescue services in parts of Austria in suspense, at times 5,000 firefighters were deployed there, supported by soldiers. Above all, the federal states of Carinthia and Styria and partly Burgenland were affected by the storm. According to eyewitnesses, a person in Zollfeld fell into the river Glan, which had swollen from the flood, on Sunday and could only be recovered dead, as reported by the government of the federal state of Carinthia.

A few dozen houses and apartments had to be evacuated, for example in the Carinthian communities of Brückl and Keutschach, because there was a risk of mudslides from completely soaked slopes sliding down. In Klagenfurt, the fire brigade pumped out basements around the clock and the city warned that the sewer system could hardly hold any more water. Residents looked anxiously at the Mur and other rivers, where the water level rose, sometimes dangerously. After all: On Sunday, the sun peeked out for the first time in days. Instead of heavy rain, there were still showers, as reported by the Geosphere Austria weather service.

Despite the constant burden, there were cross-border aid campaigns. On Saturday, Austrian rescue workers brought a mother with a 14-day-old baby safely from Mežica, Slovenia, to a clinic in Klagenfurt, about 100 kilometers away, as they reported. Carinthian emergency services helped to supply the population in hard-to-reach places across the border.


In Croatia, civil protection officers remain vigilant. Although the water levels of the rivers coming from Croatia have risen, they remain below the record levels of previous years. The Sava has partially burst its banks. "We assume that there will be no further increase in inflows from Slovenia," said the head of the water management office, Zoran Djurokovic. There is no final all-clear yet. Large amounts of water were diverted from the Sava river. Nevertheless, the water reached about 50 houses in the municipality of Brdovec near Zagreb.


A severe thunderstorm with heavy rain also hit northeastern Poland during the night. According to the fire department, streets in the city of Olsztyn were 70 to 80 centimeters under water, as reported by the PAP agency. Meteorologists warned that rivers could burst their banks in north-eastern Poland due to the persistent rain. On Sunday, a low moved from west to east through the country, a thunderstorm front with the threat of storm and hail moved towards the capital Warsaw. There were no reports of injuries.