120,000 households without power as snow, sleet hit Slovenia
Lubljana - Heavy snow and sleet battering most of Slovenia since Saturday blocked roads and railways, and left 120,000 households without power across the Alpine country, local media reported Sunday.
Slovenia’s meteorology agency ARSO declared a high alert over most of the country, urging citizens to stay at home and warning the weather conditions on Sunday afternoon and overnight could still pose a serious threat to people and their properties.
In the Postojna area, some 40 kilometres (24 miles) south of the capital Ljubljana, power lines collapsed under the weight of ice and snow or falling trees and could not be repaired due to the continuing bad weather.
The highway connecting Ljubljana with the Adriatic coast remained closed for hours on Sunday after a power line broke and fell over it while the traffic information centre on its website warned many roads all over the country were closed due to collapsed trees, power lines or ice.
“This is a large-scale natural disaster,” Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek said after visiting the Postojna area on Sunday, adding her government would ask the European Union’s assistance in providing a large number of power generators needed to bridge the power shortage.
Power cuts were also reported in some areas of Ljubljana, Celje and Maribor, leaving around 120,000 households or some 250,000 citizens in the country of two million people without electricity, private POP tv reported quoting electricity distribution sources.
“The power shortages are no longer a local but a state problem,” Defence Minister Roman Jakic said earlier on Sunday, adding the army was ready to help if the civil services needed assistance in removing snow, ice or collapsed trees from roads and energy lines.
During the day, the Defence Ministry said the army had deployed 100 soldiers to assist the civil defence units in the Postojna region and added power generators from Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic were on their way and would be distributed to the most critical areas.
Due to the extraordinary weather conditions, around 75 percent of kindergartens, schools and high schools in Slovenia will remain closed on Monday, the Education Ministry said.