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In Russia, the population criticizes the management of the authorities after exceptional floods

In southern Russia, several regions have been transformed into lakes since Friday.

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In Russia, the population criticizes the management of the authorities after exceptional floods

In southern Russia, several regions have been transformed into lakes since Friday. On social networks, images show houses submerged in brown water and rescuers in orange vests helping the population. In just a few days, these floods on a scale unprecedented in decades triggered the evacuation of thousands of homes. “More than 10,400 residential buildings are flooded,” the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said on Monday.

While disruptions linked to melting snow are common at this time of year in Russia, it has been several decades since they had reached such a scale according to the authorities. This exceptional rise in water levels is linked to rising temperatures, increased snow melting and the breaking of winter ice that covers watercourses. So far, no casualties have been announced. But the peak has not yet passed. It should arrive on Wednesday, according to the federal meteorological agency Rosguidromet.

Most of the evacuees live in the Orenburg region, the first to be affected by the rising waters. A state of “federal emergency” was declared to release special funds. According to local authorities, 6,100 residents, including 1,400 children, were evacuated. On Friday evening, a dam partially failed in Orsk, the second largest city in the district, on the border with Kazakhstan, after heavy rainfall. The dike was designed for a level of 5.5 meters but the Urals, the largest river in the region, rose to more than 9 meters.

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City residents gathered on Monday in Orsk's central square, around the Lenin monument, to express their dissatisfaction with the way the crisis has been handled, despite warnings from authorities about illegal gatherings. According to the Telegram channel of the newspaper Mojem Obiasnit, the crowd of two to three hundred people chanted slogans such as “Shame! ” and “Putin help!” ". The demonstrators criticized the authorities' inaction, demanded that those responsible for the tragedy be prosecuted and demanded better compensation. The cost of the damage could reach “more than 21 billion rubles”, the equivalent of 2.1 billion euros, according to a first estimate from the Ministry of Construction on Sunday. Another Telegram channel, named Baza, claims that the police intervened to ask the crowd to leave the square.

While the water level in Orsk fell by about 9 centimeters on Monday morning, it rose by 16 centimeters in the regional capital of Orenburg, which has the same name. The mayor of this city declared that these floods are “unprecedented”. “We haven't seen so much water in Orenburg for a long time. The record was in 1942 (...); Afterwards, there were no more floods like that,” he said. On his Telegram channel, he also called on residents to evacuate given the risk that the situation will worsen in the coming days.

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Since then, several other regions have imposed a state of emergency. The last two, Kurgan and Tyumen, located further north, declared this late Monday afternoon. “Flood forecasts are getting worse quickly, more and more water is coming faster and faster,” said Vadim Shumkov, the head of the Kurgan region. The governor of Tyumen, Alexander Moor, indicated that this exceptional regime should make it possible to “react quickly” if the situation worsened.

Neighboring Kazakhstan was also affected by these floods. On Saturday, the country's president, Kassym-Jomart Tokaïev, deplored "a natural disaster", "perhaps the biggest, in terms of scale and consequences, of the last 80 years". Vladimir Putin has not yet reacted publicly but is kept informed of events. The Kremlin said a report written by the governors of Orenburg, Kurgan and Tyumen, as well as the Minister of Emergency Situations was sent to the Russian president on Monday morning. However, he has no plans to go there, according to his spokesperson Dmitri Peskov.

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