Death Toll Climbs To 150 In Russia Flooding

by
staff
Raging floodwaters that tore through the streets of southern Russia's Krasnodar region in the middle of the night are responsible for killing at least 150 people and displacing thousands, Russian media reported Sunday.

A local resident passes by a damaged car stuck in a flooded street in the town of Krymsk in Krasnodar region, southern Russia, July 8, 2012. Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered investigators to find out if enough was done to prevent 144 people being killed in floods in southern Russia after flying to the region to deal with the first big disaster of his new presidency.

Raging floodwaters that tore through the streets of southern Russia's Krasnodar region in the middle of the night are responsible for killing at least 150 people and displacing thousands, Russian media reported Sunday.

The casualties began to climb over the weekend after authorities found bodies in flooded buildings in the hard-hit town of Krymsk, a predominantly rural area dotted with one story homes, state news agency Itar-Tass reported.

The toll may still climb as authorities search for at least two people who are unaccounted for, Deputy Interior Minister Aleksandr Gorovoy said, according to a report Sunday on English-language Russian news channel RT.

"The scale of it is spectacular, to be sure, and very tragic. The water came with such force that it tore up the asphalt," regional Gov. Alexander Tkachev said on Saturday via Twitter after seeing pictures of the flood damage in Krymsk, according to RT.

Of those killed, 139 are in the Krymsk district, nine in Gelendzhik district and two in the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk, the Interior Ministry said. At least 130 people, including 14 children, were hospitalized in the region with injuries, the minister said.

The floodwaters followed heavy rains that began Friday, pushing rivers and streams over their banks overnight. The waters rose 7 meters (23 feet) in Krymsk, striking while most people were asleep, Itar-Tass reported.

"People just ran from their homes because there was a huge wall of water," one woman told the Russian News Service, a Moscow-based radio station.

More than 12,000 have been displaced by floodwaters that overran more than 5,000 homes in a number of towns and villages in the region, the news agency reported.

The worst hit areas were along the coast of the Black Sea, which RT reports "bore the brunt of the deluge as it rushed out to sea."

The fierce floodwaters destroyed homes and carried trucks out to sea, RT reported.

One driver, according to RT, said his truck was pushed tens of meters by floodwaters, while the force of the floodwaters ripped a 10-year-old girl her mother's arms.

Five people in the seaside resort town of Gelendzhik were electrocuted after power lines collapsed into the water. RT, citing witnesses, said a man trying to cross a large puddle was initially electrocuted, and then four others who tried to come to his aid were then killed by the live electrical current.

A criminal investigation has been launched by Russian authorities to look into whether there was negligence on the part of any officials for failing to warn residents of potential flooding, RT reported.

Tkachev declared Monday a day of mourning, ordering the cancellation of any planned celebrations or leisure activities, according to a statement released by the governor's press office.