Record floods kill 134 in southern Russia
Flash floods in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region have killed at least 134 people and affected nearly 13,000 in the area’s worst natural disaster in decades, officials said Saturday.
Authorities discovered 67 bodies including that of a 10-year-old child in the district of Krymsk.
Nine more people died in the Black Sea resort town of Gelendzhik and another two in the port of Novorossiisk over the past two days, he said.
Gelendzhik alone received five months’ worth of rain in 24 hours, a major blow to the resort town at the height of the tourist season, the regional administration said.
Novorossiisk, Russia’s largest port on the Black Sea, received two month’s worth of rain in 24 hours, disrupting the work of the port and forcing pipeline operator Transneft to halt crude shipments.
Krasnodar governor Alexander Tkachev said he spoke by phone to both president Vladimir Putin and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and pledged everything would be done to help those affected by the crisis.
“Of course, it came as a shock to us,” he said, adding that the towns of Krymsk and Gelendzhik might have not seen a disaster on such a scale for at least 70 years.
“We’ve never had this before.”
Speaking on television, Mr Tkachev also expressed hope that residents would not resort to looting.
“You can see from the air that the water in Gelendzhik nearly died down but something unimaginable is happening in Krymsk,” Mr Tkachev said on Twitter as he toured the flood-hit areas.
Mr Medvedev has set up a commission to help the victims, his office said.
“A rescue operation is ongoing. More bodies are being discovered,” police spokesman Zhelyabin said, adding that he expected the death toll to rise as the day went on.
The administration of the Krasnodar region, frequently battered by seasonal rains, said earlier it was the worst flooding to hit the region in a decade.
“Non-stop rain has turned several districts of the region into an emergency zone,” it said in a statement, adding that floods affected the homes of nearly 13,000 people.
“The floods were very strong. Even traffic lights were ripped out,” regional police spokesman Igor Zhelyabin said.
“Evacuations are under way,” he added.
Authorities were now working to identify the bodies, Mr Zhelyabin said, adding: “It is hard to establish where they came from.”
The Novorossiisk port has been partially flooded and a team has worked through the night to bring the situation under control, port spokesman Mikhail Sidorov said.
“In some places the water level reached 1.5 metres,” he said.
Mr Sidoriv said that floods and a landslide had affected the port’s operations and state-controlled oil company Transneft had informed it that it would halt crude shipments.