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8 Jul, 2012 01:46

Major flooding in southern Russia devastates thousands

The worst flooding in decades in southern Russia's Krasnodar Region, near the Black Sea, has killed more than 170 people and damaged over 5,000 homes. Authorities have pledged to help survivors and compensate them for lost houses and belongings.

The natural disaster's official death toll has reached 171 people, the Interior Ministry reports. Due to the severity of the event, there is a strong possibility that that number will rise. Most of the casualties occurred in Krymsk, an inland town hit the worst by the disaster. There were also reports of deaths and substantial damage in the coastal cities of Gelendzhik and Novorossiysk.  The disaster has wrecked the lives of almost 35,000 people who have lost their loved ones or seen their homes severely damaged or destroyed.

The flash flood inundated the cities of Gelendzhik, Krymsk and Novorossiysk as well as the four villages of Divnomorskoe, Nizhnebakanskaya, Neberdzhaevskaya and Kabardinka. Over 5,000 houses were damaged by the flood waters, Krasnodar Governor Aleksandr Tkachev said. In Krymsk alone, the Emergencies Ministry says around 4,600 households were inundated. In Kuban over 250 houses were completely destroyed. Thus far over 2,800 people have been evacuated from flood-hit areas in Krasnodar by local authorities working in conjunction with rescue workers from Russia’s Emergencies Ministry.Around 30,000 people have been deprived of electricity in the region after power outages occurred in seven towns, said Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations. Additionally, over 80 percent of the population of Krymsk is now without gas.

President Vladimir Putin surveyed the area by helicopter, and met with local and federal authorities to address the aftermath of the tragedy. Putin stated that every family affected by the disaster will receive 150,000 rubles (about $4,600) as compensation, the president’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Initial transfers of ten thousand rubles are to be delivered to the victims as early as Monday. Two million rubles (about $61,000) will be paid to every family that lost a relative in the flooding. The state will also pay for the restoration of homes damaged by the disaster. The spending is to be equally distributed between the federal and regional budgets. Local authorities estimate the total damages to the region at over one billion rubles ($30 million). Putin also stressed the need to provide shelter, food and clothing for those displaced by the flooding. Local authorities pledge to finish repairing and  construction works by winter.Internet activists have also started a campaign to collect money for people injured or displaced by the flooding. A group of volunteers is preparing to go to the region to help out those in need.Chances of continued flooding and new damage and casualties remain high, as more heavy rain is expected to hit the area Sunday.