STA, 5 February 2019 - The flooding caused by heavy rains over the past weekend in the south-west of Slovenia damaged infrastructure at the Škocjan Caves, Slovenia's oldest UNESCO world heritage site, prompting their temporary closure.
According to a post on the Škocjan Caves Facebook profile, the water level at one part of the caves, the Šumeča Cave, rose by over 60 metres. "The last comparable flooding was recoded in 1975," it said.
While the infrastructure of the caves was badly damaged by the swollen river Reka, the caves as such remain undamaged.
The Škocjan Caves Park director, Stojan Ščuka, put the early cost estimate at roughly EUR 50,000. He told the STA that the caves would be reopened to visitors on Friday.
He said the extent of the flood was comparable to the one in 1965. The biggest problem was the material deposited by the river such as branches, logs and mud.
The biggest damage was done to the lighting and electrical wiring, as well as to the fencing and in parts of the walls.
But before repairs can begin, the debris deposited by the river will have to be cleaned up first. There is up to a foot or more mud on some of the paths.
Roughly 50 people, including firefighters, environmentalists, seasonal labour and students, are being involved in the clean-up effort today.
Ščuka does not expect a major loss of revenue due to the closure because the number of visitors is at its lowest at this time of year.
The caves attracted more than 184,000 visitors last year.