May 19, 2024

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“Critical” mass evacuation orders – DW – 04/12/2024

“Critical” mass evacuation orders – DW – 04/12/2024

authorities in the south Russian The city of Orenburg and nearby Kazakhstan Hundreds of thousands of residents were called to leave their homes in a mass evacuation amid the worst floods ever recorded in the region.

Moscow declared a federal state of emergency last Sunday After the Ural River, the third longest river in Europe, burst its banks in the southern Orenburg region, submerging a large part of the town of Orsk under water.

By Monday, more than 10,000 homes were floodedA number that rose to more than 12,000 on Friday as the water level in the Ural River rose to 11.43 meters (37.5 feet). Experts expect the number to reach 11.6 meters by Saturday.

“These are not drills,” Orenburg Mayor Sergei Salmin wrote on the Telegram app, as sirens sounded throughout the city of 550,000 people, about 1,200 kilometers southeast of Orenburg. Moscow.

“There is a mass evacuation. Water levels are dangerous. The situation is critical. Don’t waste time.”

Drone footage from elsewhere in the region showed submerged towns and villages with only rooftops visible above masses of brown water.

To the east, in Western Siberia, lies the Ishim River, which crosses the Russian-Kazakhstan border near the Russian city of Omsk and the Ishim River. The capital of Kazakhstan, Astanais also rising and is not expected to reach its peak before next week.

Spring floods are common in the region, as melting snow from the Ural Mountains causes river levels to rise. But high temperatures and heavy rain produced the highest levels on record, surpassing the previous record of 9.4 meters in 1942.

Residents: “We are like Noah's Ark”

“Everything is flooded, everything is lost, everything,” resident Dmitry Dragoshantsev told the Reuters news agency as he waded through the waist-deep water that destroyed his home in the village of Victoria, just outside Orenburg.

Another resident, Vyacheslav, sat on a motorboat and surveyed his two-story house, which was partially flooded. “Given the water level, all furniture, some household appliances and interior decoration items will be destroyed,” he added. “It will cost an enormous amount of money.”

As of Friday, authorities in the Orenburg region had received 200,000 requests for immediate assistance, but payments ranged only from 20,000 rubles (201 euros, $214) in temporary cash to 50,000 rubles to compensate for the loss of property.

Meanwhile, the local animal shelter was trying to care for more than 350 stray animals and pets abandoned by their runaway owners. “We are like Noah's Ark,” the shelter's director, Yulia Babenko, told Reuters news agency.

“We are like Noah's Ark,” said the owner of an animal shelter.Photography: Maxim Shemetov – Reuters

How did President Putin react?

Floods may be common at this time of year, but the seriousness of the situation coupled with the lack of a rapid, coordinated response from the central government does not paint Russia in the best light.

Earlier in the week, crowds of people in Orsk, one of the first and worst affected cities, chanted, “Putin, help me!”

but Russian President Vladimir Putin His absence has been conspicuous so far, just as he avoided dealing with home heating breakdowns over the winter and took several days to address the nation after the crisis. The recent terrorist attack in Moscow.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and his colleagues say that Putin is kept informed of developments. Footage of Putin receiving reports from regional governors has been released, but the president has not yet spoken.

The Blame Game

Meanwhile, the Russian authorities seemed to be blaming each other.

Moscow Disaster Management Minister Alexander Korenkov sparked anger when he told local TV stations that residents had been warned a week before of the floods and were encouraged to evacuate. According to the German News Agency (DPA), citing the region, the authorities have in fact reduced the danger.

According to local media, when regional governor Denis Basler was asked what responsibility he bears, he responded by pointing out that everyone is partly responsible.

In Orsk, a recently built dam that was supposed to protect the city but was breached at several points became a point of contention, with the head of a dam construction company reportedly claiming it had been weakened by rodent bites.

In Moscow, Construction Minister Eric Vizulin called the proposal ridiculous and said the earthen wall was not worth the billion rubles (10 million euros, $10.7 million) it is said to cost.

“As far as I can see, you can't call that a dam,” Vizulin said.

A Russian dam collapses after days of heavy rain

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MF/WMR (AFP, Reuters, dpa)