MOSCOW, August 17 (RIA Novosti) – The number of populated areas affected by flooding in Russia’s Far East has risen to more than 120, affecting more than 32,000 people, the Emergencies Ministry said Saturday.
Ninety-four of the areas affected are in the Amur Region, a ministry spokesperson told RIA Novosti.
More than 17,000 people have been evacuated, including 6,100 children, the spokesperson said.
The Amur Region is one of three regions in Russia’s Far East – together with the Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region – that have been affected by flooding following heavy rain in the area.
One hundred and sixty-six temporary shelters have been set up across the three regions, providing drinking water, hot food and medical supplies, Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said at a meeting with President Vladimir Putin devoted to the flooding Saturday.
An Emergencies Ministry plane delivered 53 tons of humanitarian aid, including food, lifejackets and boats, to the city of Blagoveshchensk in the Amur Region on Saturday for those affected by the flooding, the ministry said.
Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov visited the Amur Region on Saturday, where he met with residents of the village of Ivanovka, which has been flooded several times during the last month. Residents who have returned to their homes, having been evacuated from the village previously, expressed concern over the coming winter, telling Puchkov that they have been living in a state of emergency for a month, and have been left without electricity for half of that time.
“We will solve the issue of rehousing those whose homes cannot be rebuilt to other places or residential areas,” Puchkov said.
Hydrometeorologists forecast the volume of rainfall to decrease and the level of the Amur River to stop rising so fast after August 20, Vyacheslav Parshin, head of the Far East hydrometeorology and environmental monitoring department, said Saturday, adding that the level of the river, which he said is expected to rise to seven meters by August 25, had never been so high.
Putin instructed the governors of the affected regions to handle the response to the flooding personally at the meeting devoted to the flooding Saturday.
“No one must be forgotten, and no one must be lost, I mean those people who live in your regions,” he said.
“Large areas of territory have been flooded, dozens of residential areas; communication lines have been damaged, as well as roads, bridges and electricity cables. The damage is very severe. The main thing we were able to do was prevent the loss of human life,” Putin said.
Last July, the southern Russian city of Krymsk and the surrounding region suffered devastating floods that killed more than 170 people and caused massive damage and destruction.
Officials came under fire from local residents and the political opposition over what they deemed an inefficient response to the disaster, with some residents complaining that the state has been slow to provide compensation and new housing.
Updated to include Putin’s comments, details on temporary shelters and background on Krymsk.