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At least 15 people are feared dead after an explosion devastated Gorni Lom gunpowder plant north of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia.
Civil defense force head Nikolay Nikolov said: “There are no signs of life at the site of the explosion.”
“After the examination we made, the hopes to find survivors have completely vanished,” said Nikolay Nikolov, Director of the General Directorate for Fire Safety and Civil Protection, Nova TV reported.
“We will still continue surveying and examining the perimeter with the hope to find survivors but I think that 13 men and 2 women have died in the blast. We have informed their relatives,” he said.
Three women employees who had been near the factory at Gorni Lom at the time were hurt and treated in hospital.
At least 15 people are feared dead after an explosion devastated Gorni Lom gunpowder plant north of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia
Rescue workers say they are unable to enter the site until Thursday evening because of the risk of further blasts.
However, interior ministry officials visited the factory overnight, defying orders, and said they found no survivors.
The explosion took place at around 17:00 on Wednesday, October 1, and a big secondary blast was reported at 21:45.
The factory, some 75 miles north of Sofia, destroys stockpiles of obsolete munitions for the Bulgarian army and Dnes daily newspaper quoted an expert saying it had been handling explosives from Greece.
The cause of the blast is unclear but reports say 10 tonnes of highly explosive chemicals were being stored at the plant.
Drones are due to fly over the area and the government has decided to send a team equipped with armored cars on to the site, local media report, although there is no indication when that will take place.
“The factory has been reduced to ashes,” an interior ministry spokesman said.
There were explosions at the factory in 2007 and 2010, in which several people were hurt. Two units of the plant were flattened in the 2010 blast.
Ten people are confirmed dead and several others are missing after torrential rain and heavy floods hit eastern Bulgaria, officials say.
Floodwaters in the Black Sea port city of Varna surged up to 3.2ft.
Ten people are confirmed dead and several others are missing after torrential rain and heavy floods hit eastern Bulgaria (photo AP)
Many residents had to be rescued as cars were swept away. Hundreds have been left without electricity or food.
There have been hailstorms and heavy rain in several parts of Bulgaria in recent days. Forecasts say the extreme weather is set to continue.
Forecasters said that the equivalent of a month’s worth of rain fell in the regions of Varna and Burgas over the last 24 hours.
“The tragedy is enormous. I am here on a street in the suburb of Aspruhovo. The street is not here, the houses are not here, there are cars on top of each other,” Varna mayor Ivan Portnih was quoted by Reuters as saying.
Fire-fighters in the town of Kilifarevo in central Bulgaria rescued 11 people from the tops of their houses, police said.
Last month nearby Serbia and Bosnia were hit by the worst flooding since modern records began.
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Bulgarian police is questioning a couple suspected of being the biological parents of Maria, the young girl found in a Roma community in Greece last week, reports say.
Sasha Ruseva and Atanas Rusev are said by Bulgarian media to have several children, some of whom resemble Maria.
The girl was reportedly born in Greece. But Sasha Ruseva is quoted as denying Maria was left there for money.
Bulgarian police have declined to comment on the reports.
Maria came to the Greek police’s attention after they raided the Roma camp near Farsala in central Greece, initially searching for drugs and weapons.
Maria came to the Greek police’s attention after they raided the Roma camp near Farsala in central Greece
They noticed the lack of resemblance between the blonde-haired, green-eyed, pale-skinned little girl and her parents, and found further discrepancies when they investigated the family’s documents.
The couple, Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou, have since been charged with child abduction.
Maria is currently being cared for by a charity in Athens. There have been 8,000 inquiries following an appeal to identify her, and the international police body Interpol are involved in the search for her biological family.
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Parliamentary elections are under way in Bulgaria with opinion polls predicting no outright winner.
Mass protests against low living standards and widespread corruption forced the government of the centre-right Gerb party to resign in February.
However, the run-up to Sunday’s election has been marked by voter apathy and claims of fraud.
On Saturday prosecutors said they had seized 350,000 illegal ballot papers at a printing house.
The election campaign had already been marred by revelations of illegal wiretapping of politicians.
Latest opinion polls suggested the Gerb party – headed by former Prime Minister Boiko Borisov – and its main challenger the socialist BSP party were running neck-and-neck.
Gerb has pledged to keep debts under control while the socialists say they will spend more and create jobs.
Parliamentary elections are under way in Bulgaria with opinion polls predicting no outright winner
Other parties expected to pass the 4% threshold needed to enter parliament are the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) – which represents Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish minority – the ultra-nationalist Ataka, and the centrist Bulgaria of the Citizens.
However, the prospect of an election with no outright winner has raised fears of a hung parliament and further instability in the EU’s poorest country.
Polls opened at 07:00 local time and are due to close at 20:00.
Bulgaria’s 6.9 million eligible voters can choose between 36 parties but turnout is predicted to be below 50%.
Despite the large number of parties competing, it is an election that no-one appears to want to win.
Boiko Borisov has said he would be happy to go into opposition and BSP leader Sergei Stanishev has said that if his party wins, he will not be prime minister.
Bulgaria faces a major economic and social crisis with unemployment officially close to 12% but – unofficially – over 18%.
A day before the election, prosecutors revealed they had raided a printing house near the capital Sofia and seized 350,000 ballot papers that were printed over the legally fixed number.
Sergei Stanishev described the discovery as a “scandal”.
He said it showed there had been “preparation for total falsification of the elections”.
The discovery triggered a protest by members of some opposition parties outside parliament on Saturday.
The election campaign has also been marred by revelations of illegal wiretapping of political opponents, with prosecutors pointing the finger at former Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov.
More than 250 international observers will monitor Sunday’s election.
Bulgaria is set to vote in a referendum on whether a new nuclear power plant should be built.
The opposition Socialist party called the vote because it wants the government to reverse its decision not to build a new plant at Belene.
The first referendum in Bulgaria’s post-Communist history has polarized opinion and is seen as a precursor of general elections later this year.
The referendum would only be valid if at least 60% of the electorate votes.
The government says it supports the provision of nuclear power from an existing plant at Kozloduy, but that it does not have the 10 billion euros it says would be needed to build a new plant.
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov told local media that this would remain the case even if Bulgarians voted in favor of a new nuclear plant.
Bulgaria votes in Belene nuclear power plant referendum
Bulgaria had to close four of its old reactors at Kozloduy as a precondition for its 2007 EU membership.
The government froze plans to finish the plant at Belene last year, when work at the site on the southern bank of the River Danube was already well under way.
The Socialists are seen as closely linked to the Belene project, having granted a construction contract for the plant to Russian state company Atomstroyexport in 2008.
They say Belene would now cost 4-6 billion euros to complete, and would lower electricity costs for consumers.
Environmentalists had opposed the plant, which had first been proposed when Bulgaria was under communist rule.
A man put a gun to the head of Ahmed Dogan, the leader of Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish party, during a televised conference in Sofia.
Ahmed Dogan, leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), was unharmed and the unidentified man was wrestled to the ground by security guards.
The incident happened on Saturday at a party congress in the capital Sofia.
Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said the attacker tried to fire two shots but “most likely the gun misfired”.
He also said the assailant had a criminal record for drugs possession, robberies and hooliganism.
A man put a gun to the head of Ahmed Dogan, the leader of Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish party, during a televised conference in Sofia
Police arrested the attacker, a 25-year-old from the Black Sea town of Burgas, who was also carrying two knives.
The liberal MRF party represents ethnic Turks and other Muslims, who make up about 12% of Bulgaria’s population of about seven million.
Ahmed Dogan, 58, has lead the party for almost 25 years. He returned to the party conference a few hours after the attack and was given a standing ovation.
President Rosen Plevneliev said in a statement: “Bulgarian society is traditionally known for its tolerance, mutual acceptance and respect between different ethnic groups and religions.
“Such an act is unacceptable in a democratic state.”
Attacks on politicians are rare in Bulgaria, but in 1996, former Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov was found shot dead near his home in Sofia.
Bulgarian archaeologists say that have uncovered the oldest prehistoric town found to date in Europe.
The walled fortified settlement, near the modern town of Provadia, is thought to have been an important centre for salt production.
Its discovery in north-west Bulgaria may explain the huge gold hoard found nearby 40 years ago.
Archaeologists believe that the town was home to some 350 people and dates back to between 4700 and 4200 BC.
That is about 1,500 years before the start of ancient Greek civilization.
The residents boiled water from a local spring and used it to create salt bricks, which were traded and used to preserve meat.
Salt was a hugely valuable commodity at the time, which experts say could help to explain the huge defensive stone walls which ringed the town.
Bulgarian archaeologists say that have uncovered the oldest prehistoric town found to date in Europe
Excavations at the site, beginning in 2005, have also uncovered the remains of two-storey houses, a series of pits used for rituals, as well as parts of a gate and bastion structures.
A small necropolis, or burial ground, was discovered at the site earlier this year and is still being studied by archaeologists.
“We are not talking about a town like the Greek city-states, ancient Rome or medieval settlements, but about what archaeologists agree constituted a town in the fifth millennium BC,” Vasil Nikolov, a researcher with Bulgaria’s National Institute of Archaeology, told the AFP news agency.
Archaeologist Krum Bachvarov from the institute said the latest find was “extremely interesting”.
“The huge walls around the settlement, which were built very tall and with stone blocks… are also something unseen in excavations of prehistoric sites in south-east Europe so far,” he told AFP.
Similar salt mines near Tuzla in Bosnia and Turda in Romania help prove the existence of a series of civilisztions which also mined copper and gold in the Carpathian and Balkan mountains during the same period.
This latest discovery almost certainly explains the treasure found exactly 40 years ago at a cemetery on the outskirts of Varna, 35 km (21 miles) away, the oldest hoard of gold objects found anywhere in the world.
Lady Gaga stepped out in Bulgaria wearing what appeared to be a real fur coat as she left her hotel carrying a puppy.
Lady Gaga, 26, who was recently slammed by animal charity PETA for wearing a pink fur coat, then took to her Twitter account just to confirm that the garment she was wearing was real.
In a rather sarcastic manner, the pop star wrote: “For those press and such who are writing about whether or not my fur is actually real, please don’t forget to credit the designer HERMES. Thank You! LOVE, gaga.”
Her latest tweet is no doubt going to receive a backlash worldwide, but as she stepped out in Sofia yesterday, Lady Gaga didn’t seem to care what anyone thought of her attire.
Lady Gaga stepped out in Bulgaria wearing what appeared to be a real fur coat as she left her hotel carrying a puppy
The quirky star teamed the large grey coat with a pinstriped dress that was slit right up to her hips and almost revealed her underwear.
Lady Gaga completed her look with a pair of patent heels and large dark sunglasses while carrying the pooch and a small designer handbag.
As she left her hotel, Lady Gaga waved to her waiting fans and even stopped to sign autographs for them.
Lady Gaga is in Sofia for the start of the European leg of her Born This Way Ball world tour which kicks off tonight at the Armeets Arena.
Her arrival in the capital comes as RadarOnline revealed that PETA has targeted the singer by writing her a personal letter and begging her to no longer wear fur.
“Many of your gay fans, I among them, have long admired what you told Ellen: <<I hate fur, and I don’t wear fur>>,” wrote Dan Mathews, Senior Vice President of PETA.
“What happened? Are your stylists telling you that it’s fake, or are you a turncoat?” Dan Mathews asked.
“Many gays are animal advocates because we recognize that the same arrogance and indifference that some have toward animal suffering has at times been directed toward us personally because of our orientation,” he went on to say.
“By wearing those dumb furs in a heat wave, you’re making yourself a target just like the mindless Kim Kardashian. As we plan our fall campaigns, please tell us whether what you gracefully told Ellen was heartfelt or just a pose.”