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Russia battles worst floods in over a century
August 23, 2013, 6:00 am

China and Russia have stepped up cooperation on flood control and disaster relief as devastating floods have also struck China's northeastern province of Heilongjiang, known in Russia as the Amur valley [Xinhua]

China and Russia have stepped up cooperation on flood control and disaster relief as devastating floods have also struck China’s northeastern province of Heilongjiang, known in Russia as the Amur valley [Xinhua]

Catastrophic floods that hit Russia’s Far East are still creating havoc in the region after heavy rains lasted for over a month affecting around 30 000 people.

The worst affected are three regions, north of China – the Amur Region, the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region.

140 towns and villages have been inundated with over 20 000 people evacuated from the flooded areas.

The damage is expected to cost the state exchequer over 10 billion rubles ($300 million).

Floods have destroyed 67 bridges, 500 kilometers of roads with communication and power lines severed, according to official reports.

With rising water levels, the city of Khabarovsk, currently at major risk, embarked on a major evacuation drive on Thursday.

Khabarovsk is Russia’s second largest city in the Far East, after Vladivostok, and is located 30 kilometers from the Chinese border.

China and Russia have stepped up cooperation on flood control and disaster relief as devastating floods have also struck China’s northeastern province of Heilongjiang, known in Russia as the Amur valley.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday discussed the worsening flood situation along the border in a telephone conversation.

According to the regional Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring Service, water level in the Amur River in Khabarovsk region has reached 700 centimeters and flooding is expected to peak on August 24-28 with water level reaching 730-780 centimeters.

The critical mark required to start massive evacuation is 8 meters, but city authorities say they plan to evacuate residents once the level of 7.8 meters is breached.

No fatalities have been reported so far.

Russia’s Emergency Ministry has sent 10000 staff, 4 000 military servicemen and thousands of volunteers to the region for relief and rescue operations.

“Two more Emergencies Ministry aircraft carrying rescuers and humanitarian aid will take off on Thursday night from Moscow to the Khabarovsk Territory, where the situation is very acute,” Vladimir Stepanov, the head of the Emergencies Ministry’s crisis situation management center, was quoted by RIA Novosti.

Protective sandbags are placed on a bank of the flooded Amur River in Khabarovsk [AP]

Protective sandbags are placed on a bank of the flooded Amur River in Khabarovsk [AP]

The administration of Kabarovsky krai has allocated 50 million rubles ($1.5 million) to help farmers who lost their crop overnight.

During a videoconference to take stock of the situation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the critical task is to prevent human casualties.

“The first and most important thing – I will say this once again, I have done so repeatedly and now you have too – is minimising the negative effects on citizens,” Putin said.

“There is no doubt that we will rebuild agriculture facilities, bridges, roads, communication and power lines, in short everything that we might call hardware,” said the President.

Putin has warned regional authorities to prepare for the winter season, as the flooded area is located in a difficult climatic zone and in mid-September the temperatures are expected to drop below zero.

In 2012 heavy rains and flash floods almost washed away the town of Krymsk in Russia’s Southern region of Krasnodar.

The calamity killed over 150 people with the Russian government acknowledging that the catastrophe could have been minimized had local authorities not failed to notify and evacuate residents.

 

Daria Chernyshova in Moscow with inputs from Agencies for The BRICS Post

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