Russia, Kazakhstan fight floods as Putin ally says officials should have done better

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2024

PETROPAVLOVSK, Kazakhstan: Kazakhstan’s president described floods across the north of the country as a national disaster on Tuesday and ordered his government to free up funds for relief efforts by cutting spending elsewhere.

In Russia, also hit by the worse floods in living memory, a top ally of President Vladimir Putin said regional authorities had fallen short in their forecasting and emergency response. Water levels in rivers in swathes of Russia’s Ural and southwestern Siberian regions, as well as adjacent areas of Kazakhstan, were still rising rapidly, officials said.

The disaster has been caused by the fast melting of large snowfalls amid heavy rain, swelling the tributaries of several of Europe’s largest rivers.

The total number of people evacuated from their home, which had stood at 125,000 as of late on Monday, rose towards 200,000 as the governor of Russia’s Tyumen region told residents of Ishim, a town of 65,000, that they should leave urgently.

“The probability is growing of dams bursting, or water pouring over them,” governor Alexander Moor said. “You all know about the danger. Gather your valuables. Immediately drive to safe places, to relatives or evacuation points where we will supply you with all essentials.”

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev arrived in Petropavlovsk, where the local governor said 10,345 people had been evacuated as parts of the city remained under water.