Southern Russia reels from floods as toll climbs to 150Agence France-Presse . Krymsk, Russia
Russia on Sunday scrambled to deal with the aftermath of devastating flash floods that killed at least 150 people and swept away homes in the southern Krasnodar region’s worst natural disaster in history.
Russian President Vladimir Putin personally inspected the worst-hit areas Saturday evening, the first major disaster since he came back to the Kremlin for a third term in May.
Putin compared the force of the water, which trapped people in their homes at night, ripped up pavements and traffic lights and flooded rail tracks, to a ‘tsunami’.
He also quickly moved to address panicky speculation that the deluge was caused by an emergency opening of floodgates at a local reservoir, with the Kremlin issuing a statement that Putin had been told it was not the cause of the flooding.
At least 150 people died in the disaster, including in the port of Novorossiisk and the popular Black Sea resort town of Gelendzhik where five were electrocuted, a regional police spokeswoman in the city of Krasnodar said.
The worst hit area was a district around Krymsk, a town of 57,000 where rescue teams have found 139 bodies including those of a one-year-old toddler and a 10-year-old child. Most of the victims were pensioners, many caught by the floods in their sleep.
Krymsk is about 200 kilometres northwest of the Black Sea resort of Sochi where Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
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