Massive flooding in the Krasnodar region in Russia’s south has left 103 dead and over 1,000 displaced from their homes as the death toll continues to rise. There hasn’t been anything like it for the past 70 years, authorities say.
Five people were electrocuted as an electricity transformer fell into water while many more drowned. Russia’s Emergency Ministry has only confirmed 66 deaths, while police estimate the total death toll at 103.
In the Krymsky district alone, at least 92 bodies have been found, the Interior Ministry reports. Two more have been killed in Novorossiysk and nine in the Gelendzhik district. A10-year-old child was among the casualties.
A state of emergency has been declared in the cities of Krymsk, Novorossiysk, and Gelendzhik. The affected area is large and the damage widespread. Part of the Northern-Caucasus railroad has also been washed out.
Entire city streets have been completely submerged after torrential rain storms Friday, with the Krymsky district taking the worst of the floods, according to Governor of the Krasnodar region Aleksandr Tkachyov: “Gelendzhik is in better condition, there’s almost no water left there.”
The speed of the flood was also shocking, carrying away not only homes, but 16-ton trucks as well. One driver said his truck was literally carried tens of meters by the waters.
In a separate incident, a nine-year-old girl was ripped from her mother and sister’s arms by the force of the current.
Eyewitnesses also claim a 7-meter wave struck Krymsk in the middle of the night. The wave came down from the mountains, they say. The reasons are unknown, but one of the possible explanations, widely circulating in social networks, is that the water was discharged from reservoirs situated in the mountains. The other is that the wave was caused by excessive rain.
Anna Kovalyovskaya, whose parents are currently in the flood zone, says that local residents are expressing doubts that a reportedly 7-meter wave could have been caused by the rain storms alone.
“It all happened during the night. People just ran from their homes, because there was a huge wave of water, nobody warned them. Two-story houses were flooded up to the second floor. The water came on very fast. It wasn’t rain.
“I don’t know if this is official information or not, but in the city they are saying that they opened the water reservoir in the mountains above the city. That’s where the wave came from. In the city all of a sudden there was 7 meters of water. There was certainly a large storm beforehand, but the water came on so quick that in 15 minutes everything was flooded,” Kovalyovskaya told the Russian News Service.
The Emergencies Ministry says no water drain from reservoirs has been registered. The wave may have been caused by rain waters going down the mountains or rivers breaking the banks, they added.
Local authorities deny draining the local water storage and insist it is too far away from the town of Krymsk to pose any danger to it. They also refute allegations no warning was sent to the locals.
“They just did not want to leave their homes,” Anna Minkova, the Krasnodarsky Region’s press secretary, told the Echo Moskvy radio station.