2 June 2014, 18:23

Over 10000 evacuated after heavy floods struck southern Siberia

Over 10000 evacuated after heavy floods struck southern Siberia

More than 10,000 people have been evacuated as heavy floods struck in the Altai region in southern Siberia. That’s according to the the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Tens of thousands people were left without electricity, and more than 1.5 thousand people including 530 children are staying at temporary dwelling camps. A state of emergency has been introduced in three regions - the Altai region, Khakassia Republic and Altai republic. The Voice of Russia talked to Leonid Bolgov who lives in the village of Ust-Kamsa and the owner of tourist enterprise Beluha.net.

A "high alert" has been issued for two more regions – Tuva Republic and Buryatia Republic. According to Russian Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov, other neighbour regions are also at risk of flooding, as the rivers in South Siberia are overfilled due to heavy rains.

In the Altai Republic the flooding has already destroyed 230km of roads and 1.5 kilometers of federal highway to Mongolia. Fifteen bridges were washed away.

The natural disaster has already left nearly 3.500 people homeless. Emergency services confirmed that one person has died and three are missing.

According to the latest reports a declining water level has been recorded in Khakassia. The most difficult situation is still in the Altai region.
More than 17 thousand people are taking part in a flood-fighting operation. 4 thousand units of machinery including ten emergency aircrafts are used.

Vladimir Puchkov claimed that the Russian Government is preparing a decision to allocate compensations to victims of floods in Siberia, in particular, for the loss of property. The payments from the federal budget should begin next week.

On Saturday the Ministry of Emergency Situations launched a rescue operation. Humanitarian aid has already been delivered to the affected regions – people are receiving meals, medical and psychological support. Restoration works at energy facilities and the regional road network are also underway.
According to the forecasts, the flood situation in Siberia is about to stabilize in the near future, although experts do not exclude the possibility of water level rise in the next days in some of the regional areas.

How can you comment on the situation in the region? What are the latest data on water level?

I am happy to inform the optimistic news. Today and yesterday was sunny weather, the water level reduces. But the trouble continues and people have to face serious problems. And people, my friends, who I live with, show very good qualities. They gather to aid networks, there is a huge help to weaken the flood. So, for instance, a friend of mine brought his son who needs a surgery. Our region separated the roads, and people delivered the son of my friend on their own hands.

Which regions have suffered most? In your opinion how much time will it take to rehabilitate the area after the floods?

I suppose it takes not less than a few weeks to organize normal traffic and our region is very close. It is the point of the border for states of Mongolia, China, Russia and Kazakhstan, close to a mountain Belukha. The problem of the traffic is most important for us.

At what stage are restoration works now? Is it possible to deliver humanitarian aid to all remote settlements?

Unfortunately, not only our local region needs to get help, lots of territories are controlled by emergency service, for instance, my friends told me that the houses simply floated away because of the flood and the officials evacuated them and seized their property. They organized the aid centers where people can accept medical and nourishment help.

Had people already started to plant things and have those crops been destroyed?

This period all the attention is concentrated to recover the traffic, the roads, because now it is a serious problem. Some people need surgery, everybody needs nourishment. It is the most important task, the first task, which we have to solve. Majority of bridges are destroyed in the region. We have to recover them.

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