Tragedy and heroism: Victims recount fierce flood

Bodies of floods victims are transported from a local mortuary to a truck in the town of Krymsk on July 8, 2012 (AFP Photo / Mikhail Mordasov)
Many selflessly risked their lives to bring others to safety during the flood that decimated Russia’s Krasnodar region. Residents showed stunning bravery and heroism in the face of tragedy.

­Krymsk was one of  the cities worst hit by the deluge, amid reports of entire buildings being swept away and trees being uprooted. The majority of the 171 who died in the tragedy were from the city of Krymsk.

In spite of the danger, stories of incredible heroism have been reported from the flood zone.

Policeman sacrifices himself to save flood victims

Police officer Vyacheslav Gorbunov sacrificed his life to rescue people trapped in the floods in the city of Krymsk.

When the deluge hit the city, Gorbunov found a boat and used it to ferry residents to safety from the rising waters. However, tragedy struck after Gorbunov rescued two children from the flood.

As he went back to collect their relatives, a wave capsized the boat, drowning the officer.

The Russian Interior Ministry has said it will award the deceased officer a state award in recognition of his bravery.

Teenager risks life rescuing family

Separately, a 16 year-old teenage boy risked his life to save a mother and her three children struggling to escape the flood waters.

Upon hearing the roar of the approaching wave, Dennis Ignatenko ran out into the streets in middle of the night.

“My friends and I ran from the flood waters towards higher ground,” he told the Russian Internet news site Life News.

“The water rose quickly and after about five minutes it was already up to our necks. We ran in some places and had to swim in others. It was very frightening.”

In the darkness Dennis said he heard the sound of children crying and a woman shouting for help. Using the light of his mobile phone, he found that a mother and her three children were trapped in a nearby building, unable to open the door jammed shut by the flood waters. He broke the window of the house and pulled them to safety.

“We gave them dry clothes and hot tea in a hunting lodge. Unfortunately, we don’t even know the mother’s name. We hope they’re OK,” he said.

Daughter ripped from father’s arms

A family in Krymsk lost their 10-year-old daughter when the floods struck their house. The parents of the Benyaminov family had left their daughter Nineviya in the care of her 17-year-old sister to attend a relative’s funeral.

They rushed to get home when their daughter rang to tell them the flood water had reached their home.

“We drove as fast as we could,” her father Ramil Benyaminov told Life News. “The entire time my wife was ringing them [the girls] begging them not to leave the house.”

When Ramil arrived at the house the water level had already reached three meters.

“I saw my daughter floundering in the water, I grabbed her hand but just then a wave hit us. I felt her hand slipping from mine, I gripped with all my strength but I couldn’t hold on,” he said.

When Ramil came back to the surface Nineviya was nowhere to be seen.

Five minutes later he found his older daughter who had been pulled to safety by one of the neighbors. “She was hurt and covered in blood, my wife took her to the hospital.”

The Benyaminov family has left their contact details at all the temporary shelters set up for flood victims in the hope of locating their lost daughter.

Boy wrenches his grandma from disaster

­Vlad Fillipov, aged 9, woke up in the wee hours of Saturday morning as water was hitting his face.

I looked out and saw something really weird happening in the street,” the boy told Life News. “I woke up my gran; she said it was a flood and we’d die if we did not make a way out.

The door would not open as the water continued to rush in fiercer and larger streams. Vlad took an instant decision and broke a window – with his bare hands.

The two spent the rest of the night on the roof wrapped up in a thin mattress, the only thing they managed to grab in their panicked escape.

I was so frightened I did not dress up and ran out in underwear. It was so cold and scary,” says Vlad. “A neighbor took us from the roof in the morning. He carried me to the closest police station. Blood was just dripping from arms.”

Now Vlad and his grandmother, after a short visit to a hospital, are in a shelter. They won’t return to their home: several hours into the disaster, the old house collapsed.