Flooding sparks evacuations in major Russian city (VIDEOS) — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

Flooding sparks evacuations in major Russian city (VIDEOS) — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

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The water levels continue to rise in Orenburg after the levee holding back the Ural River broke

The authorities in Orenburg in central Russia ordered mass evacuations on Friday as flood waters continued to rise after the levee holding back the Ural River broke last week.

According to Orenburg Mayor Sergey Salmin, over the past ten hours, the water level of the river has risen by 40cm and surpassed the 11-meter mark.

“An emergency siren sounds in the city. This is not a drill. Mass evacuations are being carried out! The flood situation in Orenburg is extremely dangerous,” Salmin wrote on Telegram, urging people in several Orenburg neighborhoods and nearby villages to leave their houses as soon as possible and proceed to designated temporary shelters.

“The situation is critical, don’t waste time,” he added.

The regional authorities reported on Friday that five neighborhoods, three settlements, and 21 gardening partnerships were flooded in the regional capital. Around 2,300 houses and 3,700 household plots were in the flood zone.

The local department of the Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) has been sending out text messages to people living in the affected areas, urging them to evacuate; 1,521 people have been evacuated as of Friday morning, including 319 children.

Videos shared online by locals and rescuers show flooded roads. In some residential complexes, the ground floors have been flooded.

The levee gave way last week as the Ural River rose to dangerous levels due to heavy rains and a sharp rise in temperatures that melted the snow from the Ural Mountains. The local authorities declared a state of emergency across the region, and the Investigative Committee launched a criminal probe into a suspected breach of safety regulations during construction of the levee, as well as criminal negligence. Officials say that watchdogs reported maintenance violations several times since the levee became operational in 2010.

Orsk, the second largest city in the region with a population of 190,000, was heavily flooded throughout the week. While the water level in the city has gradually subsided after the section of the levee that broke was restored, videos posted online show that it remains high enough to submerge cars in certain areas.

According to preliminary estimates from the Orenburg authorities, the damage to the region from the flood could amount to 40 billion rubles ($430 million).

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