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Russian Far East submersed: area of size of Europe flooded

August 19, 2013, 17:19 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

MOSCOW, August 19 (Itar-Tass) - Meteorologists name the unprecedented flood in the Russian Far East as “historical”: there has been no such flood in the past 120 years.

The situation is nearing to be catastrophic: an area at the length of 2,000 kilometers and at the width of 500 kilometers has been flooded. Such European states as France, Germany, Spain, Ukraine and Austria could be located on this area. This distance can be compared with the length of the Great Wall of China.

Heavy rains, which have not stopped for several weeks, are the reasons for floods. The flood peak is scheduled for August 19. An emergency report says thunderstorms are forecast in the Jewish Autonomous Region. Rescuers and military units reinforce their groups.

About 140 settlements have been flooded. Over 20,000 people have been evacuated. Over 4,500 houses have been fully or partially underwater in the Amur Region. One can move at streets by motor boat.

Totally, over 30,000 people are involved to fight the flood and their number increases every day. Military units erect sand dams day and night and build pontoon bridges.

Russian President Vladimir Putin took control over the situation in the region. On Saturday, he met the leaders of ministries and governors of the flood-hit regions. “Big areas, as well as dozens of settlements, have been flooded. Power lines, roads and bridges have been caused damage. The damage is very big. The main thing is that we’ll succeed in avoiding victims among the population,” Putin said.

“I want to thank those who were responsible for evacuating people,” the president said, adding, “Don’t let your guard down. Much should be done.”

The Russian government provided 3.2 billion rubles (about $100 million) from the reserve fund to cope with the consequences of floods.

On Saturday, the leaders of the Amur Region, Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that the region had gotten the funding to provide aid to the floods-hit areas. In the meantime, the premier approved a plan to carry out a state program for protecting the population from emergencies till 2015.

Amur Region Governor Oleg Kozhemyako said the damage caused by the flood had exceeded three billion rubles. The funding, which has been provided to the region, will be insufficient to assist to all people, he said, adding that the full amount can be estimated after the water starts running out.

The Emergency Situations Ministry took control over potentially dangerous facilities in the Far East, Minister Vladimir Puchkov said. “The ministry took control over all burial sites and potentially dangerous facilities. No poisoning threat has been reported,” he said.

Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova said the Amur Region was not at risk of an anthrax outbreak because the disease does not pose a direct threat to people.

Every person, who was hit by the flood, will be paid 10,000 rubles as one-time assistance. “The funding has been provided to pay compensations for partial or full essentials losses. Every people will be paid 50,000 rubles (1,500 U.S. dollars) or 100,000 rubles (3,000 U.S. dollars). Russian regions have been allocated money from the federal budget to conduct repair and recovery operations,” Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said.

The situation in China, which borders with the Russian Far East, is more serious: a total of 2,500 people were hit by the August floods.

Moscow State University professor Leonid Smirnyagin told Itar-Tass that the water came from the Chinese rivers.

“The environmental situation in China is dreadful: China throws any things in the water. The country has no stations, which will regulate the water level. But earlier, Cossacks of Dauria (Siberian province) turned up the soil on the left coast of the Amur River and grew wheat,” he said.

At the same time, the expert noted that the Russian authorities did everything possible to assist to the flood-hit population.