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

 

Moscow

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.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam