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Floods threatens Russian city

The Russian city of Orenburg is braced for widespread flooding as rivers swell across regions bordering Kazakhstan.

The worse-than-usual seasonal floods have been caused by melting snow from the Ural Mountains, triggering evacuations throughout the area.

The Ural river, Europe’s third-longest, burst through a dam embankment in the city of Orsk at the weekend.

In Orenburg, a city of 500,000 about 300km (180 miles) downstream, waters are expected to reach record levels.

Parts of the Urals, western Siberia and the Volga basin have been hit by floods. More than 10,000 homes are under water, according to the emergency ministry.

“An increase in air temperatures, active snow melt and river openings are predicted,” the ministry said in a statement.

In Orenburg, about 1,500km (930 miles) south-east of Moscow, the Ural river is expected to reach unprecedented levels, peaking on Wednesday.

“Absolutely everyone who is in the flood zone needs to leave their homes,” Mayor Sergei Salmin said on Monday.

About 6,000 people have already been evacuated in Orenburg region.

Also on Monday, the regions of Kurgan and Tyumen, east of the Ural Mountains, declared a state of emergency and urged people to leave the floodplain.

President Vladimir Putin has asked the government to set up a commission to deal with the emergency, his office said.

In Orsk, the worst-hit city so far, residents protested against the official response on Monday.

Videos posted on social media showed about 100 people chanting “Shame!” and “Putin, help”, in a rare show of dissent in Russia.

Across the border in Kazakhstan, tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from 10 regions, the authorities said at the weekend.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said it was the country’s worst natural disaster for 80 years.

On Monday deputy Prime Minister Nurlan Baybazarov said more evacuations would be carried out as Ural River waters were still rising.

Source: BBC

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