Wed, Aug 21, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Russia battles to contain record floods in Far East

AFP, MOSCOW

A frame grab from handout video taken on Monday from a helicopter and provided by the emergencies ministry’s department in the Amur Region shows an aerial view of a flooded area in Russia’s Far Eastern Amur region.

Photo: AFP

Russians in the Far East yesterday battled rising floodwaters as authorities evacuated more than 23,000 people from affected areas and scrambled to prevent the outbreak of infections.

Heavy rains pounding Khaba-rovsk, a city near the Chinese border, since last month have swelled the Amur River to levels unseen since the 19th century, damaging property, infrastructure and crops and displacing tens of thousands.

There have been no reports of fatalities, but more than 23,000 people have been evacuated so far, the office of the Kremlin’s Far Eastern envoy Viktor Ishayev said in a statement.

Overnight, the Amur, which serves as a natural border with China where it is known as Heilongjiang, has risen by 16cm to 6.73m and is expected to rise by another 40cm over the next two days.

“According to estimates, the water levels near Khabarovsk can reach 730cm to 780cm on Aug. 24 to Aug. 28,” city officials in Khabarovsk said.

The military has been deployed to hurriedly erect flood defense bunds along the river, with authorities saying they have prepared 10,000 sand bags to use in case the waters breached the defenses.

Authorities said many in the affected areas had been left without access to money after Russia’s biggest bank Sberbank shut its branches and ATMs.

Of the more than 29,000 people who needed to be vaccinated, only 2,000 received necessary shots even though local authorities had enough vaccines against hepatitis A, diphtheria and typhoid fever, Ishayev’s office said.

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