Twelve dead & thousands left homeless as severe flooding hits Siberia (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
Twelve people have died in the floods that have devastated the Russian Siberian region of Irkutsk. Rising water levels also have driven several thousand people from their homes and there is concern over missing persons.
12 people have fallen victim to the rising watesr, with 150 others still in hospital, Vitaly Mutko, Russia’s deputy prime minister, said. Tass news agency had earlier reported that another nine people, including a child, were listed as missing.
The severe flooding was caused by torrential rains that hit the region last week. The water levels of some rivers quickly rose over more than two meters. A state of emergency was declared, with about 3,300 homes in 55 settlements flooded and nearly 10,000 people affected so far, according to Russia’s emergencies ministry.
Up to 30,000 people lost their electricity supply, with water also damaging roads, limiting traffic on part of a federal highway. Several gas stations were also flooded, causing significant leaks of fuel.
Drone footage and photos from the area show entire towns almost completely submerged.
A number of farm households and agricultural companies are in the flooded zone, with more than 5,000 head of cattle at risk of drowning. Some 140 animals have so far been rescued, while up to 800 tons of crops have been lost. Around a quarter of the region’s planted fields are under water.
Irkutsk residents have collected about 100 tons of humanitarian aid (drinking water, food and warm clothes) for people driven from their homes by the flooding, the chairman of the Irkutsk Region’s legislative assembly, Sergei Sokol, reported earlier on Monday.
There are shortages of drinking water, food, medicines and clothes. The situation […] is extremely complicated.
The damage to the region is currently estimated at about 1.1 billion rubles (US$17 million). Forecasts predict a further influx of water over the next few days.
President Vladimir Putin visited the region over the weekend, instructing Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to draft in regular troops to help deal with the flood.
Around 1,000 servicemen, 300 military units and specialized hardware, as well as an An-12 cargo plane and two Mi-8 helicopters were then sent to the affected area.
On Monday, the military announced that three Mi-8AMTSh ‘Terminator’ helicopters will also be deployed to Irkutsk to rescue people from roofs and rising water, as well as to transport essential cargo.
The president is to hold another meeting with officials on Wednesday, on the continuing efforts to tackle the flood.
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