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Disaster management in action during conference in Bulgaria

Evacuation operation at the conferenceBulgaria: The 5th Jubilee International Conference on Cartography and GIS (ICCGIS) together with EU Seminar on Early Warning and Crises management was held on June 15-20, 2014 in Riviera, Varna city, Bulgaria. The successful conference was attended by 170 specialists from 42 countries around the world.

Apart from knowledge sharing, participants experienced an unfortunate and unexpected incident at the conference. During the Gala dinner, which was organised in a typical Bulgarian restaurant and manor on June 19, strong flash floods struck the region. The place is located in Stara Planina Mountain 30 kilometers from Riviera. The floods blocked several cities (in Varna city 12 people lost their lives). The only access to the road back to Riviera was closed due to rise in rivers’ water levels. Unexpectedly, participants had to spend the night in the manor without their personal belongings and medicines and with limited food reserves. Emergency services in Bulgaria and various embassies and medical centres were immediately contacted. Finally, with the help of the Military Geographic Service of Bulgaria all participants were evacuated via helicopters and returned safely back to their hotels.

This real life experience enabled the participants to evaluate their preparedness in times of unexpected disaster situation.