Russia declares flood-hit Orenburg region a federal emergency

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In this grab taken from a video released by the Russian Emergency Ministry Press Service on April 6, emergency workers evacuate a local resident after a part of a dam burst causing flooding, in Orsk, Russia. (AP)

MOSCOW, April 7, (AP): Russia’s government has declared the situation in flood-hit areas in the Orenburg region a federal emergency, state media reported.
The floods, caused by rising water levels in the Ural River, forced over 4,000 people, including 885 children, to evacuate, the regional government said. State news agency Tass said that a further 2,000 homes were flooded, bringing the total to nearly 6,300 in the region.
Russia’s Emergency Situations Minister Alexander Kurenkov arrived in Orsk – one of the most hard-hit cities – on Sunday to supervise rescue operations.
“I propose classifying the situation in the Orenburg region as a federal emergency and establishing a federal level of response,” the minister said, according to RIA Novosti.
Orsk, less than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) north of the border with Kazakhstan, suffered the brunt of the floods which caused a dam to break on Friday, according to Orsk mayor Vasily Kozupitsa. By Sunday morning, 4,500 residential buildings in the city of 200,000 were flooded and evacuation efforts were still ongoing, Tass said.
A criminal probe has been launched to investigate suspected construction violations that may have caused the dam to break. Local authorities said the dam could withstand water levels up to 5.5 meters (nearly 18 feet). On Saturday morning, the water level reached about 9.3 meters (30.51 feet) and rising, Kozupitsa said. On Sunday, the level in Orsk reached 9.7 meters (31.82 feet), according to Russia’s water level information site AllRivers.
Authorities in Orsk reported that four people had died, but said their deaths were unrelated to the flooding.

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