Main Bulgaria-Greece Road Collapses, River Devours Truck, Driver
A truck and its driver have disappeared with no trace into the raging Struma River in Southwestern Bulgaria during efforts to reinforce one of the lanes of the E-79 road leading from Sofia to Greece.
The incident occurred early Sunday morning, after at about 1 am one of the two lanes of the E-79 road, the international road running from Bulgaria's Sofia to Kulata and Thessaloniki in Greece, got destroyed by a landslide caused by the rising of the Struma River by up to 5 meters at some spots. As a result, for several hours the traffic used only one of the two lanes which had not been affected.
The section affected by the landslide is located in the Kresna Gorge near the Yavorov train station, some 120 km south of Sofia. As a result of the incessant torrential rains in Western Bulgaria over the past two days, the Struma River has seen its level rise tremendously. This caused a landslide off the side of the road, with land mass collapsing into the river together with parts of the lane.
The route of the E-79 road roughtly coincides with the route of the Struma River, which springs from the Vitosha Mountain near Sofia and flows into the Aegean Sea.
The truck was bringing gravel that it was supposed to dump on the spot where the river had undermined the right lane of the E-79 road by causing a landslide along its side, reported the BGNES agency.
However, as the truck was approaching the spot, the road fell through, and the truck together with the driver collapsed into the boisterous river.
The only information about the fate of the driver is that neither he, nor the truck have been spotted yet.
As a result of the new landslide, the major road connecting Bulgaria and Greece has now been closed.
The only close alternative route that can be used is a deviation from Simitli on the E-79 to Bansko, Gotse Delchev, Katuntsi and then reaching Kulata, which means going all the away around the entire Pirin Mountain.
Shortly before midnight on Saturday, the Similti Municipality, which is close to spot where the landslide collapsed on the E-79 road, declared an emergency situation. Rescue units including kayaking teams from "Adventure Net" helped save 6 people stranded in their flooded houses.