The Heat Is Online

Flooding from Rapid Thaw Leaves 11,000 Homeless in Ukraine

Ukraine floods leave 11,000 homeless

Reuters News Service, March 13, 2001

KIEV - More than 11,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in western Ukraine due to massive flooding which has killed six people in a week, the Emergencies Ministry said yesterday.

The ministry said more than 32,000 homes in 240 villages and towns in Ukraine had been hit by floodwater from the swollen Tisza River in the Transcarpathian mountain region.

More than 1,200 houses have been destroyed. On Saturday, the area was declared a disaster zone.

President Leonid Kuchma ordered the early demobilisation of soldiers who live in western regions, the presidential press service said yesterday. This was evidently to allow them to go home to help their families fight the floods.

Kuchma's decree also envisages that conscription for young people living in the Transcarpathian region will be delayed.

The Emergencies Ministry said some 25,000 Ukrainian officials were involved in rescue and clean-up operations.

Heavy rains and a rapid thaw have also sparked flooding in neighbouring Hungary and Romania, where authorities have ordered mass evacuations.

In Hungary, more than 30,000 people have left their homes in two dozen villages. In Romania, some 3,700 people were forced to evacuate from their villages.

Ukrainian television showed villagers using boats and rafts of wooden debris to get through the floodwaters. Electricity, gas and drinking water have been cut off in some areas.

The authorities said floods, though an annual occurrence, were particularly severe this year.

Experts blame flooding on the extensive felling of forests, which increases the spring runoff of water.


Record Floods Claim Seven Lives in Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine, March 9, 2001 (ENS) - Rapidly melting snow and heavy rain caused the Tisza River and its tributaries to rise to record levels, provoking some of the worst flooding in Central Europe in decades. Wide areas in the river basin region common to Hungary, Romania and Ukraine have been affected, forcing whole communities from their homes.

Ukrainian government authorities report that seven people are dead, and 300,000 people have been affected.

A Hungarian Ministry of Interior official statement blamed the floods on an "unexpected temperature rise." On March 4, temperatures rose to 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit), causing snow and ice to melt.

In Ukraine, at least 20,000 rescue and emergency workers are providing what assistance they can as 35,664 people have been evacuated from their homes.

Twenty bridges have been damaged, roads and rail lines are destroyed and 139 villages lack either telephone or electric services.

In Hungary, close to the Ukrainian border, authorities report the highest water levels level ever recorded. Farmland and communities have been overwhelmed, and dykes have broken, releasing even more water.

The government has declared an emergency in Szabolcs-Szatmar-Bereg county and has three helicopters working to rescue the stranded people.

More than 10,000 people have been evacuated from 11 settlements in the northern part of the Bereg area.

In the village of Tarpa, 1,500 people sought safety on nearby high ground but soon found themselves cut off, surrounded by flood water. Red Cross rescue teams ferried in food, drinking water and hygiene supplies by boat.

The Hungarian National Directorate General for Disaster Management reports that 18,094 rescue and emergency workers including water management personnel, experts from disaster management, civil protection and police, population and charitable organizations are participating in flood protection activities.

In Romania, government officials report that water levels are receding. More than 170 villages were affected, and dams, roads and electric lines were damaged.

The unexpected temperatures blamed for the flooding are much higher than the statistical mean. An analysis by Hungarian weather officials conducted in 1996 states that over the previous century, the mean temperature for March was five degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit.)

Floods kill six in western Ukraine

Reuters News Service. March 12, 2001

KIEV - Floods in western Ukraine have killed six people and forced thousands from their homes, prompting authorities to declare the region a disaster area, officials said on Saturday.

A duty officer at the Emergencies Ministry told Reuters levels on the swollen Tissa River and its tributaries were receding.

But a week of flooding had damaged 27,600 houses and destroyed 911 buildings in 216 villages. Rescue teams had evacuated more than 10,000 people.

Interfax Ukraine news agency said President Leonid Kuchma had declared the Transcarpathian region a disaster area.

Heavy rains and a rapid thaw have also caused flooding in neighbouring Hungary and Romania, where authorities ordered mass evacuations.

A total of 136 houses have collapsed in Hungary's northeastern region and 30,000 people have been driven from their homes in two dozen villages. In Romania, more than 3,700 people were evacuated from their villages.

Ukraine's Emergency Ministries said people living alongside the Tissa were still bolstering dykes with sandbags.

"The water levels remain dangerously high and it is still too early to say when the situation will be completely resolved," the duty officer said.

The authorities said floods, though an annual occurrence, were particularly severe this year. Experts blame flooding on extensive felling of forests, which increases the spring runoff.

Flooding was at its worst in Ukraine's Carpathian regions in 1998, when 10 people died and more than 24,000 were left homeless.