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River waters are slowly receding, conditions on the ground are critical

The latest situation on the floods in Slovenia was presented at the press conference by meteorologist Blaž Šter and hydrologist Janez Polajnar, both from the Slovenian Environment Agency, Director of the Slovenian Water Agency Neža Kodre and Commander of the Civil Protection of the Republic of Slovenia Srečko Šestan.

They stressed that the weather was beginning to calm down and the floodwaters in the rivers were beginning to recede, but that extreme caution was still needed because of the critical situation on the ground. Črna na Koroškem is still cut off from land routes, so an air bridge has been set up to the area. An air bridge has also been established for the Upper Savinja Valley. Due to the collapse of part of the levee on the River Mura, the inhabitants of three nearest villages along the river had to be evacuated during the night. Slovenia will apply for international aid and a special application will be launched to help those affected by the disaster.

Meteorologist Blaž Šter presented Sunday's weather forecast, according to which a line of thunderstorms from the northwest will reach Slovenia in the early afternoon with localised short-lived showers and strong gusts of wind, while small hail is expected to fall in the Primorska region. Although this line of thunderstorms would otherwise not be unusual, it could cause problems in the current flood emergency.  A strong northerly wind - tramontana will also blow briefly along the coast. Mr Šter added that more settled weather conditions could be expected over the next few days, with no significant rainfall expected at least until the end of the week.

Hydrologist Janez Polajnar said that the level of the River Mura had started to rise further during the morning hours, with a record flow of 1450 cubic metres of water per second recorded at Gornja Radgona. The high flow of the River Mura came naturally from Austria and the competent services in Slovenia are in constant contact with their Austrian counterparts. Mr Polajnar said that the Austrian run-of-river power plants had no influence on the amount of water currently flowing through Slovenia, which is expected to flow out in the next 24 hours.

Mr Polajnar also explained that the River Sava was still flowing at a high level, while the River Krka had stabilised at 280 cubic metres of water per second. The flow of the River Krka into the River Sava has slowed down due to the damming of the outflow at the confluence of the Krka and Sava. Elsewhere in the country, river waters are receding and are gradually returning to their natural courses.

He concluded that with the thunderstorms expected this afternoon, and particularly because of the fragility of the terrain, problems with rainwater stagnation could be expected in several areas, even where this is not normally the case. There could also be a rise in the level of smaller torrential streams.

Neža Kodre, Director of the Slovenian Water Agency, said that the most critical situation during the night was along the River Mura, where a levee developed a ten-metre break in the evening. With the help of the Slovenian Armed Forces, the competent water management authorities fought to remedy the damage throughout the night and eventually repaired the broken levee. The levee is currently under constant surveillance by the relevant services. Mrs Kodre added that the water level of the River Mura in this area would continue to be high, but was then expected to slowly recede.

Srečko Šestan, Commander of the Civil Protection of the Republic of Slovenia, said that the renewed attempt to reach Črna na Koroškem had unfortunately failed again, but at the same time he expressed confidence that the relevant services would find a way by land, and if not, it would simply have to be made. He stressed that an air bridge was in place to transport emergency equipment and other supplies to the area. The Civil Protection Headquarters in Koroška has been reinforced by staff from other areas and a special Civil Protection Officer for Koroška has been appointed. All necessary supplies are also being delivered to the Upper Savinja Valley via the air bridge, and the road in the Upper Savinja Valley to Luče is also expected to be operational today, Šestan added. The water distribution system for Mozirje, Nazarje and Rečica ob Savinji is also being set up. He pointed out that the inhabitants of the settlements Dolnja Bistrica, Hotiza and Kot had been evacuated during the night due to the collapse of part of the Mura River levee.

The Civil Protection Commander also said that at today's meeting of the Civil Protection Headquarters, a request for international assistance had been prepared and submitted to the Government. Slovenia will apply for prefabricated temporary bridges and heavy machinery, together with their operators, through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

Commander Šestan and Petra Bezjak Cirman, Director of the Government Communication Office, announced that a special application for aid to the disaster victims would be launched on Monday and presented at a special press conference on the same day.

At the end of the press conference, the Director of the Government Communication Office asked all those who want to help as volunteers on the ground not to go there yet, as the conditions there were not yet suitable. As the situation is still critical, she urged all the residents of Slovenia to act with the utmost caution and to follow the instructions of the competent services on the ground.