MOSCOW, August 31 (RIA Novosti) - Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Saturday its forces have evacuated about 8,400 people from flood-hit areas in Russia’s Far East.
“Since the start of the flooding, the Russian Defense Ministry units charged with disaster response and assistance to local residents have evacuated about 8,400 people and 75 vehicles from the flooded areas,” the ministry said.
Currently, over 5,200 servicemen, 941 military vehicles, nearly 50 aircraft and 40 motor boats are involved in the rescue effort.
Russian health minister Veronika Skvortsova said more than 37,000 people sought medical assistance in four mobile hospitals deployed in affected regions. She said over 3,000 patients were hospitalized, most of them were diagnosed with stress-related conditions, chronic illnesses and minor injuries.
As rescue efforts proceed, water in the region’s Amur River continues to rise, gaining 12 centimeters (4.7 inches) in the past 24 hours.
As of Saturday morning, Amur water stood at 782 centimeters (25.6 feet), almost six feet above the critical point of 600 centimeters (20 feet).
“By September 1-4, the water is expected to reach the 800-centimeter point,” the local weather service said.
Several weeks of flooding, which according to Russian meteorologists were the worst in the region in 120 years, have affected the Amur Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region, and the Khabarovsk and Primorye territories, as well as in the Siberian republic of Yakutia. A deputy presidential envoy to the Far East, Vladimir Pysin, said on Tuesday the overall damage is currently estimated at 30 billion rubles ($1 billion).
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov visited the flood-hit Amur Region, made a helicopter trip above the affected areas on Saturday and presided a special meeting of Russian ministers and local officials to discuss disaster response and recovery measures.