Russia has declared a day of mourning today for the 171 dead, and in honor of the more than 24,000 affected by the disaster. Questions are being raised as to the delays in warning residents of the coming deluge.
Digital Journal reported yesterday on the flooding in Russia's Krasnodar region, which has taken the lives of 171 people. Some 479 people, 48 children among them, have sought medical aid following the flood. Almost 3,000 people have been evacuated from the disaster area. More than 24,000 people have been affected by the disaster.
The floods are the worst in nearly a century and the death toll continues to climb. The video above shows an aerial view of the flooded areas.
The city of Krymsk was the worst effected by the floods, with reports of entire buildings being swept away and trees uprooted. Most of the 171 who have died in the tragedy are from this city.
RT has reported moving stories of both tragedy and heroism encountered in the tragic flood, a couple of which are included below.
Among stories of heroism, despite danger to self, one police officer, Vyacheslav Gorbunov actually sacrificed his life in the rescue of people trapped in the floods in Krymsk. When the floods hit the city, Gorbunov found a boat and was using it to ferry residents of the city to safety. He has just rescued two children and went back to rescue their relatives when tragedy struck and a wave capsized the boat, drowning Gorbunov.
The Russian Interior Ministry has stated that Gorbunov will receive a state award in recognition of his bravery.
Another moving story is of a 16-year-old boy who risked his life to save a mother and her three children, as they struggled to escape the deluge. When he heard the roar of the flood approaching, Dennis Ignatenko ran into the streets in the darkness.
He told the Russian Internet news site, Life News: “My friends and I ran from the flood waters towards higher ground. The water rose quickly and after about five minutes it was already up to our necks. We ran in some places and had to swim in others. It was very frightening.”
Dennis told reporters that he heard children crying and a woman shouting for help. Using his mobile phone as a light, he found the mother and her three children trapped in a nearby building. They were unable to open the door as it had been jammed shut by the flood waters. Dennis broke the window and pulled the family to safety.
“We gave them dry clothes and hot tea in a hunting lodge. Unfortunately, we don’t even know the mother’s name. We hope they’re OK,” he said.
In another example, a family in Krymsk lost their 10-year-old daughter when the flood waters struck their house. The parents of the Benyaminor family had left daughter Nineviya with her 17-year-old sister while they attended the funeral of a relative.
Their daughter phoned them to tell them the flood water had reached the house and they rushed home.
“We drove as fast as we could,” her father Ramil Benyaminov told Life News. “The entire time my wife was ringing them [the girls] begging them not to leave the house.”
When Benyaminov reached the house, the water level was already at three meters.
“I saw my daughter floundering in the water, I grabbed her hand but just then a wave hit us. I felt her hand slipping from mine, I gripped with all my strength but I couldn’t hold on,” he said.
When he surfaced again, his daughter was nowhere to be seen. Shortly after this, he found his older daugher, who had been saved by one of the neighbors. “She was hurt and covered in blood, my wife took her to the hospital.”
The family is hoping to relocate their daughter and have left their contact information with all the temporary shelters set up for victims of the disaster.
Reuters is reporting that officials are being blamed for not doing enough to prevent the 171 tragic deaths. The disaster has raised concerns about the country's readiness for natural disasters under President Vladimir Putin. President Putin has been criticized for a slow response to national disasters. However, he quickly flew to Krymsk on Saturday and ordered an inquiry into the high death toll.
Some residents of Krymsk are saying that the floodwaters that swept through the city were so high, that the gates of a nearby water reservoir must have opened.
These suggestions have been dismissed by Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov, who says that mistakes were made in failing to ensure residents were warned quickly enough. A criminal investigation has been launched into the situation.
Puchkov said in a statement on Russian TV, "According to a preliminary appraisal, warnings were made but unfortunately not all the work was carried out properly. Mistakes were allowed by local leaders and various services. Not all the population was warned in time," he said.
Governor of the Krasnodar region, Alexander Tkachev, attended a meeting with Krymsk residents on Sunday, where he defended his shortfalls in warning of the disaster. He told residents that the first warnings came at 10 pm on Friday and that the heaviest rainfall was from 1 am to 3 am on Saturday.
He told the meeting, which was televised: "Do you think my dears ... that we could have warned each of you? With what forces? That's one. And two, would you have gotten up and left your homes?"
There are reports of refrigerated trucks, holding the bodies of some of the victims, parked behind a hospital in Krymsk, where survivors can identify the last of the dead.
In the flood-ravaged town of 57,000 inhabitants, postmen have been going from door to door, giving 10,000 roubles ($300) to the residents, promising more compensation in future.
In the meantime, many people are trying to salvage what they can from their ruined homes. Ovsen Torosyan, 30, told Reuters, "Nothing is left. We are like tramps. I bought all the furniture and electrical goods on credit and still have to finish paying for them but they have all gone."