More than 150 people killed in worst floods to hit Russia in a generation



More than 150 people are now known to have died in the worst floods to hit Russia in a generation, with the official response to the tragedy becoming heavily politicised even before the waters had fully receded. President Vladimir Putin flew to the region on Saturday to coordinate the rescue efforts, while opposition politicians accused authorities of criminal neglect.

This evening the Russian Interior Ministry said that 152 people had died in the flooding in the Black Sea region of Krasnodar, with the vast majority coming in one town, Krymsk, where huge rivers of water swept through the streets in the early hours of Saturday morning, after several inches of rain fell in one 24-hour period. People scrambled up trees or onto rooftops to escape the rising waters, with waves up to seven metres high reported. As the worst of the flooding came deep in the night, many were unable to flee in time.

Hundreds of houses were damaged and around 30,000 people were left without power today, as the waters also caused havoc with road and rail infrastructure, and briefly paralysed the port of Novorossiysk, one of Russia’s biggest.

Mr Putin was extensively featured on state television coordinating the rescue effort. News images featured the president wearing a black shirt and a concerned expression flying over the area in a helicopter, and later demanding information from local officials on whether enough warning was given to residents.

There was both grief and fury in Krymsk, as many local residents accused local authorities of not giving them warning of the floodwaters. Rumours have spread that authorities released water from a local reservoir to stop it from overflowing, but did not warn residents in time. “Of course this tragedy could have been prevented,” one tearful resident told an online Russian television station. “They don’t care about us. They didn’t warn us. Nobody came to save us.”

The opposition movement seized upon the public anger to attack local Kremlin-appointed leaders. Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the liberal Yabloko party, said that he had reliable information suggesting that water had indeed been released from the reservoir. Regional governor Alexander Tkachev wrote on his Twitter feed that this was “nonsense” but today the Emergencies Ministry admitted that there had been water released from the reservoir. However, officials said they were not considering this as a possible cause of the floods.

MPs from the opposition Just Russia party called for Mr Tkachev to resign, and said that authorities should have done a better job of evacuating residents as the severity of the storm became apparent. A number of opposition politicians flew into the region today, both to offer help and support but also to make a political point, in a sign of how polarised Russia’s political climate has become.

Facing the first major crisis since he returned to the Kremlin in May, Mr Putin is perhaps mindful of the scorn poured on him back in 2000 when he faced the first disaster of his initial presidential term, the Kursk submarine disaster. Then, he was criticised for not breaking his holiday and flying to the scene. Twelve years on, Mr Putin is a very different politician, and as he continues to face a sustained street protest movement, he was clearly determined to show that he is in control of the rescue effort.

“The Investigative Committee will check the actions of all the authorities,” said Mr Putin. “How notice was given, how it could have been given, how it should have been given and who acted in what way.”

Today has been declared a day of mourning across the region.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing