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Slovenia on Sunday called for help from the EU and Nato alliance to deal with the aftermath of flooding that killed at least three people and caused damage estimated at more than half a billion euros.
Roads, bridges and buildings were destroyed in what Slovenia’s prime minister Robert Golob described as “the greatest damages by natural disasters in the history of independent Slovenia”.
Slovenia, which declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, suffered a month’s worth of rain in less than 24 hours across the country on Friday, according to the national weather service.
Authorities evacuated thousands of people from their homes and the Slovenian armed forces used helicopters to rescue those trapped by floodwater. Tens of thousands were left without electricity.
The damage affected two-thirds of the country, with the northern Koroška region hit hardest. The damage caused would “almost certainly exceed” €500mn, Golob said on Saturday.
The EU’s commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarčič, met Golob on Saturday evening, pledging “immediate assistance” from the EU solidarity fund and other support mechanisms.
European commission president Ursula von der Leyen posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it was “heartbreaking to follow the devastation caused by colossal floods in Slovenia . . . We will mobilise support as needed”.
On Sunday, Slovenia said it had requested assistance through the EU’s civil protection mechanism, in the form of heavy machinery and engineering units to remove debris and make roads passable. Lenarčič said the Slovenian requests had been passed to member states.
The government also requested military helicopters, soldiers and prefabricated bridges from Nato’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre.
Slovenia is expected to request further funds from the EU’s solidarity fund, which is designed to offer support in times of disaster. An exact total in support will not be decided until after damage is assessed.
Slovenia has earmarked €10mn in humanitarian aid for those in affected regions and requested international assistance. The Polish Red Cross had sent two trucks with clothing and humanitarian aid, while Croatia had provided a military helicopter, the Slovenian government said.
Commissioner Lenarčič, a former Slovenian ambassador to the EU, hailed the work of intervention teams. “The fact that the vast majority were protected is proof of the excellence of the civil protection and rescue system,” he said in a post on X.
Representatives from the Slovenian environment and water agency said on Sunday that the weather situation was “slowly calming down” but remained serious. As floodwaters recede, landslides have become the biggest concern for authorities.
The flooding follows extreme weather across the continent. In May, 17 people died and more than 30,000 lost their homes in flooding in Italy.
Extreme heat has also hit the south of Europe throughout the summer. Copernicus, the EU’s climate change service, recorded the hottest average global temperature on record for June and first three weeks of July.
Climate scientists have attributed the extreme weather patterns to man-made climate change.
Additional reporting by Raphael Minder in Warsaw