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25 Jul, 2007 16:47

Floods still pose danger in Russian Far East

Heavy floods are threatening a huge area of Russia's Far Eastern Amur region as the water in the Zeya reservoir reaches a critical point. However, experts say the water level is stabilised. More than 60 houses in nearby villages have already been flooded.

The water level in the Zeya reservoir in Russia's Far East rises every year, but it's the first time in many decades that it has reached a critical point 60 centimetres higher than normal, and the outcome could be disastrous.

Due to excessive outflows from the Zeya hydroelectric power plant, several villages have already been flooded.

A state of emergency has been declared and more than 400 people have been evacuated.

Those who remain behind are struggling to do whatever they can to protect their homes. Sandbags go on top of sandbags in an effort to keep the water at bay. But it will be useless if the dam breaks.

Rescue workers are preparing for the worst.

“We are building up a tent camp for the people who will probably be moved here in case of the most unexpected and worst turn of events. There will be a couple of tents where people will be served, provided with food. The kitchen is already there. Up the hill there will be places to live,” says Andrey Berezinets from Emergencies Ministry.

But the latest reports give some hope – the level of water in the reservoir has stopped rising.

Weather watchers also express optimism saying no heavy rainfalls are expected this week. So for residents of the Amur region there is still a chance their homes will be safe.