KRYMSK, August 19 (RIA Novosti) – Four now-former officials on Monday were convicted of negligence for failing to alert residents in southern Russia last year about impending floods that killed 170 people.
Many of the dead had been sleeping in their homes when flash floods swept through the city of Krymsk and surrounding areas in July 2012.
The local meteorological service issued alerts warning of possible torrential rains and flash floods on July 5, but local authorities took no action before the floods hit the following day.
Former Krymsk district head Vasily Krutko, former Krymsk Mayor Vladimir Ulanovsky and the former head of the nearby village of Nizhnebaksanskaya, Irina Ryabchenko, as well as a former deputy head of the district's emergency response department, Viktor Zhdanov, were convicted in a Krasnodar region court that serves Krymsk.
“Even after the officials realized the scope of the disaster that hit the city due to their silent inaction, the suspects attempted to escape justice by preparing, signing and backdating documents that they believed would free them from accusations. But this falsification was easily revealed by experienced investigators,” said Vladimir Markin, the main spokesman for the federal Investigative Committee.
He added that although the local infrastructure could not withstand the flooding, the officials had enough resources and information to prepare for the possible inundation and minimize its consequences.
Investigators found that an order to impose a state of emergency in Krymsk over the torrential rain was backdated to make it appear that it had been issued earlier. Computer records showed that the document was not issued on July 6, when the floods hit – as claimed by the city administration. Instead, the state of emergency was introduced at 6 a.m. local time on July 7, when most of the deaths had already occurred.