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Flood prompts state of emergency in east Russia

 
 
 
 
 
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A flooded house in Blagoveschensk, Russia’s Amur region

Five regions in eastern Russia have declared a state of emergency amid flooding assessed by the national weather center as the worst in the country’s history.

With thousands already affected, the flooding in Russia’s Far East is expected to reach its peak next week as emergency workers and local residents step up efforts to tackle the disaster, officials said on Saturday.

About 5,300 houses in more than 120 communities had been swamped by the flooding, caused by heavy rain, Civil Defense Minister Vladimir Puchkov told President Vladimir Putin in a videoconference broadcast on state television.

The Amur region, along the border with China, is the worst-hit.

Officials have warned that waters in the city of Khabarovsk could rise to their highest level for more than a century on Monday.

“We have never seen such a large-scale flood in our country’s history,” said Alexander Frolov, chief forecaster at the national weather center. “The flood covers territory from Lake Baikal (south of Siberia) to the Pacific Ocean.”

An estimated 13,000 people have been moved to safety while another 100,000 are yet to be evacuated in the upcoming days.

Temporary shelters have been opened up, mostly in schools, to receive displaced residents.

Russia’s weather monitoring service said the floods, caused by a month of unusually heavy rain, are not expected to start receding until early September.

Although the resulting damage is extensive no casualties have been reported.

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