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Russia, Kazakhstan evacuate 110,000 people as record floods set to worsen | Floods News

Kremlin says weather forecast is ‘unfavourable’ with western Siberia expecting peak flooding in three to five days.

More than 110,000 people have been forced to evacuate in Russia and Kazakhstan after fast-melting snow swelled the Ural River, Europe’s third-longest, causing it to burst its banks and flood cities and towns along its path.

More than 97,000 people were evacuated in Kazakhstan alone, the emergencies ministry said on Wednesday, while at least 12,000 people have been moved to safety in Russia, mainly from the worst-hit Orenburg region.

A spokesperson in the Kazakh ministry said they were monitoring the situation in the Russian city of Orsk and water levels in the Ural River, which flows through Orsk and Kazakhstan, then into the Caspian Sea.

Both countries have been battling the rising waters for more than five days and declared a state of emergency. The Kremlin said the worst of the flooding was still to come in some parts of the Ural and Siberian regions.

Fast-melting snow and ice have caused rivers in Russia’s southern Urals, western Siberia and northern Kazakhstan to reach unprecedented heights, threatening many settlements.

The Ural burst through embankments in Orsk on April 5 and has reached the streets of the regional capital Orenburg, a city in central Russia with a population of 550,000 where hundreds of homes were flooded.

The city had not seen such floods since at least 1947, local officials said, calling the rising water “completely unprecedented”.

The worst hit areas in Russia are just to the south of the Ural Mountains, about 1,200km (750 miles) east of Moscow. Emergencies have been declared in the Orenburg and Kurgan regions of the Urals and in the Tyumen region of Siberia.

In Kurgan, a region that straddles the Tobol River near the border with Kazakhstan, 4,500 people were evacuated and fears grew that thousands more would need to be moved out. Sirens were heard warning people to evacuate immediately.

The floods are also expected to worsen in Kurgan, home to some 300,000 people, as the Tobol River swells.

“The forecast is unfavourable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “The water level continues to rise in flood zones, large amounts of water are coming to new regions.”

“The situation is very, very tense,” Peskov added.

In western Siberia, the largest hydrocarbon basin in the world, the peak flooding is expected in three to five days, as well as in some areas around the Volga, Europe’s largest river, according to Russia’s emergencies ministry.

In a phone call on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev pledged to cooperate in battling the floods.

The Russian opposition criticised Putin for not visiting the affected areas. The Kremlin said he had no plans yet to visit the flood zone and was being regularly briefed on the situation.

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