Storm damage skyrockets

  • 2005-01-19
  • From wire reports
RIGA - The recent Baltic storm, reportedly the fiercest in 40 years, has taken a multimillion-dollar toll on the region. Although the final assessment has not been approved, damages could reach 30 million (43 million euros) 's 50 million lats, Finance Minister Oskars Spurdzins said Jan. 17.

The sum, in fact, has grown to such atmospheric proportions that the state said it would apply to the EU Solidarity Fund for financial support. A country is eligible for such assistance if losses amount to at least 0.6 percent of GDP, which in Latvia's case would be 38 million lats.

By far the sector most severely affected was forestry. As Arnis Muiznieks, a State Forest Service official, explained, "Even doing the simplest estimates and assuming that 30 percent of the fallen trees could be used as fuel, the loss turns out to be at least 40 million lats."

"The forestry sector has suffered the biggest loss," admitted Spurdzins, who met with the EC's energy commissioner to discuss compensation.

According to figures estimated by the Ministry for Regional Development and Municipal Affairs, damages at Latvian ports amounted to 7.5 million lats.