Storm aftermath in Latvia: one dead, several injured, harvest damaged

On Monday, August 7, a storm ripped through Latvia with huge hailstones and strong winds causing destruction. For farmers this is another catastrophe on top of a poor harvest year.

Latvian Radio contacted the Farmers Saeima member Valters Zelčs who was on the field when the storm hit: "I was on the field and I saw that the sky is all black, it was raining in the distance, and my first thought was to quickly get off the field, at least to the side so that I can get the machinery after the storm. But it came.

"The feeling was as if I were in the bottom of the sea, because the rain came from everywhere, horrible wind. The big harvester with a full container, that's tens of tons, was being thrown around. When it seemed to abate, I opened the door and was wet within a second. [..]

"Altogether the situation is a catastrophe. Where there was hail, we see the machinery is totally battered, the fields... Not even talking about any sort of harvest, all is battered, in some sort of porridge on the field, roofs torn off houses, windows broken. Some pets have been killed during the hail. The situation is dramatic. It's a catastrophe."

Minister of Agriculture Didzis Šmits (United List) has asked specialists and responsible authorities of the Ministry to swiftly identify the situation and the extent of damage in agriculture, both in Zemgale and elsewhere in Latvia. It could then be decided to turn to the Cabinet following support for the affected holdings.

Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity), after the coalition meeting, told the media that the government would assess the extent of the damage after the end of the storm and be involved, if necessary, in helping. He also commented that the consequences of climate change are beginning to be felt in the country. 

Rīga was also reached by thunderstorms, but not as strong as it was experienced in, for example, Dobele municipality. Some trees have fallen and electricity supply has been interrupted.

Following the heavy rainfall in Rīga, pumping of water puddles started where they hamper vehicle traffic. 

Due to the thunderstorm, the State Fire and Rescue Service (VUGD) received the most calls in Riga, Latgale, and Zemgale, VUGD spokeswoman Viktoria Gribuste said in an interview with LTV.

Due to the thunderstorm, VUGD received around 300-330 calls, work continued at night and calls are also received on Tuesday morning. Broken trees, damaged cars, buildings, and damaged rooftops were reported.

Most calls were received from Rīga and its surroundings, from Daugavpils and Dobele municipalities. But there are different amounts of damage in these places.

“In Rīga, the wind mostly overthrew trees on the road, breaking electricity lines. There were more calls in Dobele, where the wind had destroyed the roofs of buildings and there was not one tree on the road, but many,” Gribuste said.

Health Minister Līga Meņģelsone told LTV Tuesday morning that one person had died after a tree had fallen on him, but eight have been injured five of whom are in the hospital.

Meanwhile, the electricity distribution network said that as a result of the severe thunderstorm, the electricity supply was also disrupted for 7,800 customers of the network on Tuesday morning.

The largest number of simultaneously disconnected “Distribution Network” customers exceeded 421,000 on Monday evening.


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