Environment

Flooding hits parts of Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey as rivers overflow


Several rivers in southeastern Europe have broken their banks late March 2018, causing flooding in parts of northern Greece, southeastern Bulgaria, and northwestern Turkey.

The Evros (Meriç / Maritsa) River in Greece has been at dangerous levels since March 25, 2018.

Greek civil protection authorities declared a state of emergency on March 30, 2018, in areas within in the municipalities of Alexandroupolis, Soufli, Didymoteicho, and Orestiada, due to flooding caused by rising water levels in the Evros River.

The problem could worsen as neighboring Bulgaria has announced it will release more water into the river from the Ivaylovgrad Dam, the region’s deputy governor, Dimitris Petrovic, said.

Emergency services were searching for a group of migrants who were reported missing near the Evros River.

“State television said authorities believed about 15 people went missing as they tried to cross the swollen and fast-flowing Evros river which divides Greece from Turkey in the far northeast,” according to Reuters.

More migrants and refugees are attempting to cross into Greece through its land border with Turkey since the 2016 EU deal with Ankara when the sea route to Greece was closed.

In Bulgaria, the overflowing Tundzha River has flooded agricultural and forest land in Yambol Province due to fast-melting snow and rains in the mountainous parts of Sliven, Aitos and Sungurlare. The worst-hit areas are Trankovo, Kirilovo, and Elhovo.

Wide areas of land have been flooded in the province of Edirne in northwestern Turkey after Tunca river topped the floodplain, flooding bridges, cars, and historic areas.

Heavy rain and melting snow in catchment areas in neighboring Bulgaria, as well as Erdine Province, dramatically increased levels of the Tundzha, Meriç (Maritsa / Evros) and Arda rivers since March 28, 2018.

Meriç and Erdine districts are among the worst affected. Roads, farmland, and homes close to the rivers have been damaged. Floodwaters have left some vehicles stranded and bridges over both the Tunca and Meriç rivers have been closed. Floodwaters have partially submerged major historic sites in Edirne such as the Justice Pavilion, the Balkan Martyrs’ Cemetery, and Kırkpınar Contest Field, the site of wrestling tournaments for hundreds of years. Several farmhouses near the riverbanks were also flooded. 

Discharge from the Tunca River jumped from 38 cubic meters per second to 308 per second within 24 hours, later inching back to 301 cubic meters per second, according to Turkey’s State Waterworks Directorate, the local news told. Discharge from the Meriç River also jumped from 327 cubic meters per second to 1 327 cubic meters within 24 hours, and later soared as high as 1 368 cubic meters per second.

No injuries, fatalities or evacuations have been reported.

Floods in Erdine Province, Turkey, late March 2018

Floods in Erdine Province, Turkey, late March 2018

Floods in Erdine Province, Turkey, late March 2018

Images credit: Government of Erdine Province

Featured image: Evros News Youtube video





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