Investigators launch probe into deadly Russian floods

Investigators launched a probe into possible negligence after flash floods in southern Russia killed at least 171 people and President Vladimir Putin demanded an explanation from officials.

First funerals were held in the town of Krymsk, the worst hit area in southern Krasnodar region, as emergency workers pulled more bodies from the debris and survivors insisted they had not received any flood warning.

Some bodies were taken from Krymsk after the Saturday flood to morgues in other cities because the town's morgue quickly overflowed, grieving relatives told AFP Sunday at a funeral service held for a local man.

The negligence of local authorities and a failure to learn from past disasters were a prime factor behind the flooding, the press said on Monday.

With officials keen to blame freak rains for the disaster, both pro-government and opposition newspapers showed rare unanimity in saying the authorities had badly failed local inhabitants in the worst-hit town of Krymsk.

Putin demanded Saturday evening that officials explain the massive death toll in what is the first major disaster since he returned to the Kremlin for a third term in May.

However Putin, who compared the force of water to a "tsunami", also quickly moved to dispel rumours that the deluge might have been caused by an emergency opening of sluice gates at a local reservoir.

Russia's Investigative Committee said Sunday it has launched a criminal probe into possible negligence that has caused people's deaths after Putin called for an investigation to see "who acted how."

At least 171 people died in the disaster, including 12 in the port of Novorossiisk and the popular Black Sea resort town of Gelendzhik where five were electrocuted, a police official with the emergency task force in Moscow told AFP.

The worst hit area was a district around Krymsk with population of about 57,000 where rescue teams have found 159 bodies including three children, police said.

Most of the victims were pensioners, many caught by the floods in their sleep. The disaster damaged properties of 24,000 people, Krasnodar Governor Alexander Tkachev said, according to his press service.

Krymsk is about 200 kilometres (120 miles) northwest of the Black Sea resort of Sochi where Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

Flash floods frequently batter towns along the picturesque Black Sea coast during seasonal rains in the Caucasus mountains, but authorities said the current disaster is unprecedented as they struggled to explain the massive toll, saying only that many people may have been caught offguard.

The force of the water was so ferocious that many residents said they suspected the floods were caused by a release of water at a local reservoir on the Neberdzhai River.

Putin, wearing a black shirt, was shown on television Saturday evening grilling officials about whether an emergency release of water was possible.

"Where did the water come from?" Putin asked government officials in televised remarks.

Governor Tkachev swiftly replied: "It was raining."

On Sunday Tkachev faced a crowd of angry people as he tried to fend off charges that the government had not done its job properly and sought to explain it was simply impossible to notify each and everyone.

"It's like an earthquake. It's impossible to predict it. Do you think it was man-made?" Tkachev asked the crowd in televised remarks Sunday. "Yes!" the people cried back.

He had earlier called on people to stop spreading "stupid rumours," saying the region was pelted with five months' worth of rain.

Investigators acknowledged Sunday that repeated releases of water did happen but it remained unclear whether it might have contributed to the disaster.

Some residents bluntly accused authorities of a cover-up.

"It always rains here but we've never had this before. A seven-metre tall wave crushed everything," Irina Morgunova told AFP in Krymsk. "That is not rain. But no-one will ever say it out loud."

As they tried to sort out their muddy belongings, Krymsk residents also complained they have been left to their own devices and authorities offered little help.

"It's a catastrophe," said Viktor Voloshin, who arrived in the flood-ravaged town Sunday to help relatives whose house was damaged.

"People need drinking water but there is no drinking water being distributed," he told AFP.

"We have 30-degree weather now, diseases will begin," he added.

Volunteers in Moscow and other cities meanwhile mobilised on Russian social networks and Twitter, sending donations and volunteers to Krymsk to help in the crisis.

Putin said survivors would get new homes while families of victims would receive two million rubles ($60,800) each.

The Kremlin declared a national day of mourning Monday, recommending that all entertainment programming be pulled from state television channels.


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philips Gold finally shines

    Philips Gold made 11 service aces on its way to beating Mane ‘N Tail, 25-19, 27-25, 25-16, for its first victory in the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) All-Filipino Coinference Monday night at The Arena in San Juan.Former College of St. Benilde standout Rossan Fajardo had six aces as part of her 10-point output as the Lady Slammers finally barged into the win column after losing their first two matches.Ex-National University star Myla Pablo led Philips Gold with 14 points highlighted by 12 kills, …

  • Turkish Airlines starts direct Manila-Istanbul flights 3 times a week

    Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s flag carrier, launched on March 30 its thrice weekly direct, non-stop flights between Istanbul and Manila at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 and plans to operate a daily service between the two cities, eventually, announced Chief Marketing Officer Ahmet Olmustur. Last November 2014, the Philippines and Turkey signed an expanded air services agreement granting Turkish carriers three frequencies per week to Manila and Clark. In accordance with …

  • Azkals bow to Bahrain

    The Philippine Azkals fell short in their bid to salvage a draw and fell 2-1 to Bahrain Monday night in an international friendly match at the Bahrain National Stadium in Manama. Faouzi Mubarak struck the opening goal for the home side in the 29th minute before Abdulla Yaser doubled the lead two minutes later with a booming shot from 25 yards out. Fil-German midfielder Manny Ott gave the Azkals a ray of hope when he scored from just outside the box in the 61st. National team Coach Thomas …

  • Alcalas dominate rivals

    In a brilliant show of power and speed, Mark Alcala downed fierce rival and Philippine team member Ross Leonard Pedroza, 21-16, 23-21, to win the men’s singles open title. Alcala lost her No. 1 ranking after focusing on her studies at the University of the Philippines, but she’s willing to sacrifice once again in order to represent the country in future international tournaments. …

  • Girl, grandma hurt in land mine blast

    A 12-year-old girl, who was on her way to her graduation, was wounded together with her grandmother after they were hit by a landmine blast planted near their family’s residence at Sitio Totoy, Barangay San Jose, Monkayo town, Compostela Valley (ComVal) province. Lt. Vergel U. Lacambra, chief of the Public Affairs Office (PAO) of the Army’s 10th Infantry (Agila) Division (10th ID), reported that Marcelyn Domicillo and her 58-year-old grandmother Rosallia Andaya were taken to a hospital in …

  • Army paddlers outlast Navy

    Army began where it left off the previous year, turning back arch rival Navy to rule the men’s 300-meter standard race in the opening leg of the 2015 Cobra Energy Drink-PDBF Dragon Boat Regatta held over the weekend at the Manila Bay.Overall champions the past season, the Army paddlers made their move in the last 100 meters to emerge clear winners in one minute and 7.67 seconds of the event sponsored by the country’s leading energy drink, Cobra, and organized by the Philippine Dragon Boat …

  • Awareness: April Fool’s Day

    On April 1, be wary of people who may borrow money or play practical jokes on you. It’s April Fool’s Day! While believed to be of Western origin, April Fool’s Day is observed in many countries of the world, including the Philippines. April Fool’s Day is that day of the year when people take the opportunity to fool around a bit by playing practical jokes on the gullible. …

  • All-out peace, says PNoy

    President Aquino reiterates that the best option for the government is all-out peace, not all-out war. *** Likewise, the Philippine National Police (PNP) calls for a peaceful and orderly observance of the Holy Week nationwide, as hundreds of thousands of people go on an exodus to major tourist spots and the provinces. A blessed Holy Week! *** The President dismisses calls for an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the Masasapano tragedy and instead will …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options