User:Dominika uow/Russian Far East inundated by record flooding

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

File photo of flooding in Russia in 2012.
Image: Маскитный.
Amur River between Russian Far East and northeastern China

Russian Far East Minister Viktor Ishayev has claimed that up to 100,000 people in the Russian Far East could be evacuated from flooded regions hit by the country's biggest floods in 120 years. Russian chief forecaster Alexander Frolov said, "the flood covers territory from Lake Baikal to the Pacific Ocean." Heavy rain falls along the Russian border over the past month have caused the Amur River to rise significantly. The river rose 17 centimeters in one day and currently stands at 657 centimeters. The flooding waters have forced 30,000 residents to evacuate and local villages can now only be accessed by boat. Russian officials have confirmed that water levels are expected to rise even further after already reaching historic highs.

Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed to the region that the area could lose up to two billion rubles (US$60 million) as a result of the disaster. "The damage is extensive, but the most significant achievement is there have been no casualties. We should not relax. There's a lot of work ahead," he said. Water levels have reached the highest ever in the area surrounding the Amur River, which forms the border with northeastern China. Floodwaters have destroyed more than 2500 homes and inundated 1.4 million hectares of farmland in this region.

Some areas in Russian Far East received a year’s worth of rain between July 1 and August 12. "We have never seen such a large-scale flood in our country's history," Mr Frolov told Rossiya 24. Medical professionals have begun vaccinations to prevent an epidemic of infections such as typhoid fever and hepatitis. Other precautions have been implemented, with locals only drinking boiled water.

Meteorologists and emergency workers predict that the disaster could reach its peak next week. Triggered by a month of unusually heavy rain, the floods are not expected to subside until September. Emergency Minister Vladimir Puchkov has suggested postponing the start of the school year in the Amur region from September 1 to September 10-15.