The Heat Is Online

Thousands Evacuated From Southern Russian Flooding

Death Toll in S. Russia Flood Climbs

The Associated Press, June 29, 2002

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- The death toll from flooding in southern Russia climbed to 93 on Saturday, emergency officials said, and President Vladimir Putin took local authorities to task for not doing more to help victims.

Two local officials in the Stavropol region have already face criminal charges for failure to inform people of the impending flood, the newspaper Izvestia reported Saturday.

The floods have forced thousands to flee their homes and caused more than $385 million in damage. On Friday, the Russian president toured the flood-ravaged region.

"We have visited the camp set up by the emergency situations workers, the best one, I was told," Putin said on RTR television Saturday.

"If this was the best one, I wonder how people live in other camps," Putin said. "Bad, everything is very bad, I haven't seen anything good at all."

Putin said he saw victims sitting in the camps naked and barefoot, sleeping in tents erected in mud. "We must do everything for them to have food and drinking water and a little money.

Forty-seven people lost their lives in the Stavropol region, 31 in the Krasnodar region, 10 in the Karachayevo-Cherkessia region, four in North Ossetia and one in Kabardino-Balkeria, the duty officer at the regional Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Putin said poor preparation by local authorities had significantly increased the region's misery.

"I've said good things about the rescuers" from the army and the Ministry for Emergency Situations. "Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the local powers, the regional powers, and to a certain extent, about federal powers."

"If things had been put in place earlier, maybe the damage would have been minimized and the victims would have been fewer. The system of notification practically didn't exist," the president said.

Copyright © 2002, The Associated Press

Rescuers rush to Russian flood zone

BBCNews.com, June 25, 2002

Rescue workers are struggling to reach remote areas of Russia's North Caucasus region devastated by some of the worst floods in decades.

The number of confirmed victims rose to 72 on Tuesday. Officials say at least 86,000 people were left homeless by the rising waters.

Most of the victims died in Stavropol territory.

Emergency officials say more than 3,000 homes have been completely destroyed, and around 45,000 others were flooded.

The region's infrastructure has suffered massive damage.

More than 230 bridges have been destroyed, and nearly 1000 kilometres (75 miles) of roads damaged. Railway lines and gas pipelines have been severed, along with water and electricity distribution networks.

Some 12,000 rescue workers were being sent to the region to try to restore vital services and reach outlying areas.

Although Stavropol took the brunt of the damage, people died in several other territories, including Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Krasnodar territory, North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.

The waters began rising after a week of heavy rain.

A frantic rescue effort began as the scale of the disaster. Many villagers were plucked from their homes by helicopter as the waters rose.

Helicopters are now being used to distribute food and medicine.

"The situation remains grave even though the floods have passed their peak," a spokesman for the Emergencies Ministry told the French news agency AFP.

The minstry's head, Sergei Shoigu, was due to fly to Dagestan on Tuesday to assess the damage for himself. He said an improvement in the weather had eased the flood crisis.

Some victims' relatives have accused the authorities of a slow and ineffective response. Officials blamed each other for a poorly co-ordinated response.

"We could have prevented some of the casualties if the whole system had worked well together, starting with the weather forecasts," he told journalists.

A special commission has been set up to oversee repairs to the infrastructure.

The floods are the worst in Russia since the Siberian republic of Yakutia was inundated by melting snow and ice a year ago, and residents say they are the worst in Chechnya since 1937.

Russian flood deaths mount
BBCNews.com, June 24, 2002

Floods caused by rain-swollen rivers in southern Russia have killed more than 50 people and left thousands homeless.

Hundreds are reported missing in one of the worst natural disasters to hit the region since the 1930s.

As officials blame each other for a poorly co-ordinated response, latest reports say a dramatic improvement in the weather is likely to help minimise further losses.

Russian emergency workers are distributing food and medicine by helicopter to areas where there is no road access, because bridges have been swept away.

As well as 53 confirmed deaths, the devastation is reported to include:

  • 75,000 made homeless
  • 70 villages under water
  • 105,000 people without electricity
  • 14 bridges swept away in Stavropol region alone
  • An oil slick in the Sunzha river from a flooded refinery

Large stretches of road and railway, and hundreds of hectares of farmland, have also been destroyed.

The worst affected areas are the Stavropol and Krasnodar regions, and the republics of Chechnya, Dagestan, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.

Cargo planes have flown in food, and helicopters have plucked stranded villagers from rooftops.

Soldiers trapped

Dagestani authorities say one third of the region is under water. One village, Kizlyar - where frantic efforts were made to reinforce flood defences - appears to have been saved by the turn in the weather.

The floods are the worst in Russia since the Siberian republic of Yakutia was inundated by melting snow and ice a year ago, and residents say they are the worst in Chechnya since 1937.

Emergency officials said many of the deaths were caused by heart attacks, exposure to cold water, and the collapse of structures weakened by the flooding.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered the military to help repair the damaged infrastructure and sent Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu to the region to co-ordinate the rescue effort.

However, some military units in Chechnya are also reported to be trapped by floodwaters.

Mr Shoigu acknowledged widespread public concern that the rescue effort had started too late.

"We could have prevented some of the casualties if the whole system had worked well together, starting with the weather forecasts," he told journalists.

Scores dead in Russian floods

BBCNews.com, June 23, 2002

At least 46 people have died and another 180 are missing after severe flooding in southern Russia, the interior ministry says.

The floods, which have engulfed Chechnya and neighbouring regions in the North Caucasus, have also left at least 20,000 people stranded, a ministry spokesman said.

About 55,000 people have already been evacuated from their homes, according to Russian news agency Interfax, some of them plucked from their rooftops by rescue helicopters.

Roads and railways have been cut off and the destruction of power lines has left many people without electricity.

The floods have been caused by heavy rains in Ingushetia, South Ossetia and in Chechnya.

The BBC's Nikolai Gorshkov says that in recent days, the region has seen as much rainfall as it would normally expect over three months.

Weather forecasters say the rains will continue for the next two days as river levels remain dangerously high.

Emergency officials said many of the deaths were caused by the collapse of structures weakened by the flooding, exposure to cold water and heart attacks.

President Vladimir Putin has sent Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu to the north Caucasus region to co-ordinate the rescue effort and has ordered the military to help repair the damaged infrastructure.

Russian troops are already in the area, fighting separatist rebels in Chechnya.

Raging floods in Russia kill 28

CNN.com, June 22, 2002

MOSCOW, Russia (Reuters) -- Raging floods in southern Russia have killed 28 people by Saturday, swept away bridges and forced rescue teams to pluck more than 1,600 stranded people off roofs.

An Emergencies Ministry spokesman confirmed the death toll and said three people were missing as floods surged through eight districts in northern Caucasus, including separatist Chechnya. Two rescue workers were among the dead, including one carried away by the water after a rubber boat overturned.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the army to come to the aid of Chechnya's residents as the military struggled to restore communications disrupted by the floods.

But sunshine has largely replaced the heavy rains which plagued the region for days and officials said floodwaters were receding.

NTV television said the Krasnodar region, near the Black Sea was the worst afflicted area, with the Kuban, Laba and Fars rivers spilling over their banks

The Stavropol region farther east was also badly hit. Aerial photos showed one village, Barsukovskaya, entirely under water, with residents walking away from flooded homes or being evacuated in trucks. NTV said two looters had been arrested.

"Helicopters have been in action all night. All forces are being deployed," Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu told NTV while touring the region. "A little more than 1,600 people have been rescued from rooftops by helicopter."

Nearly 5,500 people have been evacuated, he said.

 

Water supplies contaminated

"I was helped onto a garage roof and then lifted off by a helicopter to the other bank of the river," an unidentified 14-year-old boy told NTV at a military base.

Three Ilyushin-76 cargo planes took off from Moscow with food, medicines and other supplies for the region.

NTV quoted health officials in Stavropol as saying supplies of fresh water had been contaminated and residents had been told to avoid drinking it.

Pictures showed torrents thundering under bridges and carrying off uprooted trees and light poles. RTR state television showed chunks of asphalt falling into rivers as floodwaters lapped at roadways.

Rescue teams pushed through waist-deep water in towns as families stood helplessly on high ground, watching cascades swirl around their homes. Some hoisted dogs aloft to carry them to safety.

In Chechnya, where Russia's army has been trying to subdue separatist guerrillas for more than two years, the military provided emergency aid.

Television showed Putin conducting a Kremlin meeting of senior officials. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and top generals were ordered to provide aid to residents.

Television footage showed roofs poking out from under the surging waters of the Sunzha River in Grozny, the regional capital. Mountain streams cut off army units in remote districts.

Much of Grozny and other Chechen towns lie in ruins amid Russia's campaign to crush separatist guerrillas.

Copyright 2002 Reuters. All rights reserved.

Russian floods death toll rises
BBCNews.com, June 22, 2002

At least 26 people are now known to have died and thousands have been forced to leave their homes following severe flooding in southern Russia. Several other people are reported missing.

Up to 20,000 people have been left homeless and more than 5,000 evacuated.

The BBC's Nikolai Gorshkov says that in recent days, the region has seen as much rainfall as it would normally expect to get over three months.

Weather forecasters say the rains will continue for the next two days as river levels remain dangerously high.

Heavy rains were also reported in Ingushetia, South Ossetia and in Chechnya.

Emergency officials said many of the deaths were caused by the collapse of structures weakened by the flooding, exposure to cold water and heart attacks.

The flooding has washed away bridges and sections of roads and railway lines, damaged power and telephone lines, and caused sewage systems to overflow.

President Vladimir Putin has sent Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu to the north Caucasus region to co-ordinate the rescue effort and has ordered the military to help repair the damaged infrastructure.