Flood waters rising in Russian region hit by levee collapses (VIDEOS) — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

Flood waters rising in Russian region hit by levee collapses (VIDEOS) — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

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The Orenburg mayor has issued a warning amid mass evacuations, with the city of Orsk hit hardest by flooding

Flood waters continue to rise in Orenburg in central Russia, Mayor Sergey Salmin has warned. The city of Orsk in the region, which borders Kazakhstan, has been the site of a major disaster over the past few days, with two levees breaking.

The first embankment gave way on Friday as the Ural River rose to dangerous levels, with the local authorities declaring a state of emergency across the region. Another ruptured the following day in the vicinity of Orsk, with more than 2,500 houses flooded. Over 4,000 local residents have been evacuated.

At least another 3,500 houses elsewhere in Orenburg Region have been affected.

Second levee bursts in flooded Russian city (VIDEO)

The Investigative Committee’s office in Orenburg Region believes that at least one of the incidents was due to negligent maintenance of the infrastructure.

In a post on Telegram on Sunday, Salmin wrote that the “flooding situation remains critical.”

“The water is rising, and in the coming days its level will keep rising,” he said, adding that there would be further power outages in affected areas and urging people to evacuate immediately.

Interfax quoted the Orenburg governor’s press office as reporting that since the start of the disaster, four people have been found dead in their homes. None of them drowned, and “their deaths have nothing to do with the flooding,” officials stressed.

Eighteen people have reportedly contracted norovirus after consuming contaminated tap water. The local authorities are now working to ensure the safety of the water.

On Sunday, an oil refinery in Orsk halted operations, citing ecological risks brought on by the flooding.

That same day, the head of Russia’s Emergencies Ministry, Aleksandr Kurenkov, arrived in the disaster area. He said the emergency in the region has been assigned high-priority federal status.

On Saturday, the Investigative Committee in Orenburg Region launched a criminal probe into a suspected breach of safety regulations during construction, as well as criminal negligence.

TASS quoted the local prosecutor’s office as saying the levee that broke on Friday became operational in 2010. Officials added that technical watchdogs had reported maintenance violations several times since.

While flooding of the Ural River in the spring is nothing new for the region, heavy rains and a recent sharp rise in temperature have led to the water levels rising one meter higher than normal.

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