KRANSODAR, October 26. /TASS/. Almost 1,500 people are involved in dealing with the aftermath of heavy rains and floods that hit south Russia’s Krasnodar region earlier this week, rescuers said.
"As of 21:00 Moscow time, 1,846 households which are home to 5,379 people remain flooded in three municipalities," the press office of the regional rescue service said in a statement. "377 people, including 186 children, have been evacuated. The effort to clear the aftermath of the disaster involves 1,460 people and 330 pieces of construction hardware and special equipment, including three emergency response and recovery trains."
Heavy rains in the Krasnodar Region had previously flooded railway lines, delayed trains and destroyed a bridge on the Tuapse-Maikop highway. All services are operating on a round-the-clock basis. Local officials said that two people were killed, two were injured, and one person is missing as a result of the floods. Earlier, the Emergencies Ministry issued an emergency warning about floods with thunderstorms, hail and winds on the region’s territory on October 25 and 26. A state of emergency has been declared in the region.
In addition, communication with the resort city of Sochi through the federal highway was disrupted after a bridge on the Makopse River was damaged and a 200-meter section of a motorway leading to it had been destroyed early on Thursday. Besides, rail traffic along the only railway leading to Sochi also stopped, as the tracks were flooded or damaged by landslides in some areas.
Sochi mayor Anatoly Pakhomov said, however, that traffic via the Makopse bridge is expected to resume at 10:00 a.m. Moscow time on Saturday. He also said that although weather in the region remains far from normal early on Friday,the emergency warning of downpours, hailstorms and strong winds so far proves to be wrong.
"The situation is normal, today’s rains cannot be compared to yesterday’s, they are relatively harmless. Of course, we have deployed police patrols and volunteers, put rescue services on standby and alerted the population," he said.
Meanwhile, residents have already started to return to Kransnodar region’s Apsheron district, deputy head of the local administration, Andrei Klishchenko, said.
"About 900 people were evacuated [on Thursday] morning, but water started to subside very quickly, so people have begun returning to their homes. About 200-250 people remain in temporary shelters, but their number is constantly changing," he said.
The resort city of Sochi on the Black Sea coast was literally cut from the rest of Russia as both the highway and the railway leading to it were damaged by floods and landslides. The rail link was expected to be restored early on Friday at first, but the Sochi mayor later announced that the effort would take up to three more days.
According to a TASS correspondent, the Sochi rail station is now filled with passengers. Since it became clear that the rail traffic is unlikely to be restored in the near future, many people are willing to return their tickets or reschedule their trip to a later date.
As of Thursday evening, about 49 trains with some 8,000 passengers in total have been delayed as a result of the disaster. About 1,000 of those people have already been taken to a Sochi hotel.
"[Russian rail carrier] RZD has already booked full-board stay for them. Those who want to wait for their departure in a hotel for three days have been invited to do so free of charge, with three meals a day. Meanwhile, RZD is purchasing plane tickets for those who need to leave as soon as possible," Pakhomov said.
Train passengers have also found themselves stranded in the region’s capital Krasnodar and at other rail stations.
According to the Krasnodar mayor’s office, more than 1,000 hotel rooms were reserved for rail passengers in Krasnodar. As of Thursday evening, three trains with 800 people on board in total were unable to continue their journey from the city’s train station. At 22:00 local time on Thursday, buses started to take those passengers to hotels. Among the first was a group of 120 children who were travelling to a festival and a sports training session in Sochi.
Besides, 350 passengers were stranded at Saratovskaya and 650 - at the Goryachy Klyuch railway stations. Hot meals were provided for them, and field kitchens are operating in the vicinity.
According to weather forecasts, rains in the region will continue for at least 24 hours, but their intensity will gradually subside.
"On Friday afternoon, up to 50 mm of rainfall is still expected in mountainous regions, but those figures are far from those observed in the past day, when the rainfall of 300 millimeters was recorded in the Tuapse region alone," the deputy head of the Krasnodar hydrometeorology and environment center, Andrey Bondar, said.
The storm warning for the Krasnodar Territory will remain in place for at least until another 24 hours. However, the weather is expected to return back to normal over the weekend.