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26 Jul, 2007 13:24

Prosecutors blame regional authorities on floods in Russia’s Far East

A criminal case has been opened against authorities who discharged water form the Zeya reservoir in Russia’s Far Eastern Amur region. The Prosecutor’s office alleges management failed to regulate the water flow in the reservoir. As a result, the water lev

Heavy rains have led to widespread floods in the Zeya area.

Meanwhile, Emergencies Ministry say further rains could worsen the already critical situation in the region.

Getting around is almost impossible for the villagers whose homes have been swamped by the flood waters. A few brave souls have returned to gather prized crops, and make sure their belongings are safe.

“I came to get some potatoes from under the water because we earn our living from the garden,” said Viktor Makarov, a local resident.

The village of Ovsyanka is almost entirely under water. Emergency services have set up special camps to provide shelter for the locals. But not everyone has taken the opportunity, and some have chosen not to leave their homes.

“There are ten teachers and two doctors in this village. If they leave for another place, how is our village supposed to go on? ” a local wonders.

The situation is still critical. The Zeya resevoir is almost at capacity and with the incessant heavy rains the overflow has been almost constant.

Authorities are discharging millions of liters every second and that's one of the contributory factors to the flooding.

“The water level has so far stabilised. A lot was done to manage the flood risk and if the situation worsens we are ready for a large scale rescue effort,” Aleksandr Solovyev, Deputy Head of Regional Emergencies Ministry Centre, assured.

Experts say the situation is unlikely to ease for some weeks. Regional authorities have offered apartments away from the devastation to those affected.

However, weathermen expect more rainfall during August, and that could cause further flooding throughout the area.

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.