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Death toll of devastating flood in southern Russia exceeds 170

July 09, 2012, 14:12 UTC+3
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Оne hundred and seventy one people were killed and another 2,700 were evacuated as a result of a devastating flood in Russia’s Krasnodar territory. Last Friday mountainous rivers overfilled with abnormal heavy rains produced a heavy wave that flooded Gelendzhik and Novorossiysk and other populated settlements. The town of Krymsk was hit most severely – the flood took a heavy toll of human lives and destroyed hundreds of houses. Scientists and ecologists say the flood was caused by natural factors, but if the country had a good functioning emergency warning system, it would be possible to avoid so many deaths.

Explaining why citizens were not informed about the flood and were not evacuated, the local authorities say they received the warning late in the evening, the Vedmosti business daily reported. All those interviewed citizens say they received no warning signal, ecologist and Yabloko party activist Suren Gazaryan replied. It appears that the local authorities knew about the flood. Local residents also complained about evacuation – the Internet is filled with videos showing that people receive no assistance. The Emergencies Ministry took over just technical functions – it piped out water and collected dead bodies, Gazaryan said.

Local residents express confidence that heavy rains could not create a gigantic wave, they suspect water discharges from the Neberdzhayevskoye water storage basin that supplies water to Novorossiysk, the daily wrote.

President Vladimir Putin tried to check this version at an emergency meeting in Krymsk. A representative of Russia’s hydrometeorological service assured that the water storage basin had no water discharge gates, while the Investigation Committee noted that on the tragic weekend water was discharged from the basin, but this could not cause the flood. Ecologists also believe that an emergency water discharge could not be named as the flood’s reason.

The head of WWF Russia, Igor Chestin, believes that the flood was first of all caused by anthropogenic factors. “It is necessary to restore forests illegally logged on the slopes,” he said. “During catastrophic precipitation forests kept water, while now it simply runs down the slopes and nothing stops it.”

On July 9 Russia announced the day of mourning, while citizens ask uneasy questions, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported. Who did kill hundreds of residents of Krymsk – heavy rains or thoughtless water discharge from the water storage basis? Why did senior officials in the Emergencies Ministry and city administration not begin to evacuate residents or simply wake the sleeping town up, although they knew about the imminent danger of flood. The investigation will probably give answers to these questions. But already today the state-run media sources persuade citizens that people were adequately informed about the flood threat, that there were no water discharges from the water basin and that only the opposition spreads these rumours. However, significant numbers of the country’s population, including residents of Krymsk, do not trust civil servants, and not groundlessly, disaster witnesses assure that the authorities threaten they should stop signing their blogs in the Internet.

When the federal TV channels report about the flood as a tragic and quite an ordinary regional scale event, Russia’s Internet is bursting with indignation, the daily wrote. Social networks are filled with witnesses’ comments calling not to trust in what the media is saying.

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