As intensive relief operations continue in Russia’s southern Krasnodar Region, devastated by outrageous floods, the death toll keeps climbing having reached the number of 144 people by Sunday morning.
Russia’s worst in decades floods ravaged this week several cities and residential areas in the Krasnodar Region, including Gelendzhik, Novorossiysk as well as Krymsk, a town with the population of 57,000 people, located some 87 kilometers (54 miles) from Krasnodar.
“As of 6:00 a.m. Moscow time [2:00 a.m. GMT] 144 people were killed… There were also 205 people, including 48 children, who asked for medical assistance,” a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said adding that 77 more people were hospitalized.
The Russian Interior Ministry earlier said that policemen involved in relief operations in the worst-hit town of Krymsk rescued 150 children.
“Up to 600 policemen are working in Krymsk and they have rescued some 300 people, including 150 children,” the statement from the ministry said.
At least 130 people were killed by the disaster in the Krymsk district that was swept by the flood on late Friday night, when most of the people were asleep.
President Vladimir Putin visited the Krymsk district on Saturday holding an urgent meeting with the representatives of all services involved in search operation and tackling the consequences of the disaster. He then left for Gelendzhik, the Black Sea resort city that was also suffered from floods.
Apart from the president, who made a surveillance flight above the flooded territories, several ministers and the head of the Investigation Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, arrived to the affected areas.
The abruptness and ferociousness of the flood triggered rumors that the disaster was caused by negligence of the local authorities who had allegedly opened the Neberdzhayevsk water reservoir to prevent it from overfilling because of the heavy rains.
The claims were echoed by the statement from Russia’s Yabloko party, whose head Sergei Mitrokhin said on Saturday that it was the emergency sluice opening system at the reservoir that had caused the tragedy.
“The activists of Yabloko’s Krasnodar office have found out that the abrupt water rise in Krymsk last night was caused by the emergency opening of the Neberdzhayevsk reservoir…The residents have not been informed about it,” Mitrokhin said in a statement.
The Krasnodar region’s authorities dismissed the claims, calling them “an absolute nonsense.”
The governor of Krasnodar region, Alexander Tkachyov, has declared July 9 day of mourning for victims of the flood.
In 2002, over 60 people were killed in floods that hit Krasnodar region in January during the abnormally warm winter.