At least two die as heavy rains hit Slovenia, forcing evacuations

KAMNIK, Slovenia Aug 4 (Reuters) – At least two people died as torrential rains hit northern and western Slovenia on Friday, causing floods, cutting power and disrupting traffic.

Two men from the Netherlands died, possibly after being hit by lightning, Slovenian press agency STA reported. The Dutch government confirmed the deaths but not the cause.

An elderly Slovenian woman also died during the storm, though authorities were still looking into the circumstances, STA added.

Slovenia’s Environment Agency has issued a red warning against large-scale flooding. Meteorologists say the heavy rains, which are expected to spread to neighbouring Croatia and Bosnia further to the south, will last for the next 24 hours at least.

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

Helicopters evacuated people trapped at their homes in the town of Skofja Loka, where vehicles and trucks were submerged or taken by torrents, local media reported.

“We have not seen floods like these not just in 500 years, but in a 1,000 years,” Roman Kocilija, chief of the rescuers in the village of Most pri Komendi, told Slovenia’s N1 television. Water levels had reached 2 metres, he added.

Nearly all regional roads in the north were closed as well as some railway lines, and about 16,000 households were left without electricity, STA reported.

The army was ready to deploy to help, Defence Minister Marjan Sarec said. He appealed to citizens to stay indoors in the town of Kamnik, where authorities declared an emergency situation and closed kindergartens.

Reporting by Borut Zivulovic and Daria Sito-Sucic; and Charlotte Van Campenhout from Amsterdam; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Andrew Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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