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Kazakh Dams Break, Causing Evacuations And Deaths

ALMATY (Reuters) -- Thousands of people have been evacuated and some killed in Kazakhstan after severe floods destroyed several dams in the south of the Central Asian state, the Emergencies Ministry said.

Spring flooding is a recurring problem in Central Asia but a sudden rise in temperatures following weeks of heavy snow storms has exacerbated the problem this year.

The Kazakh Rmergencies Ministry said two dams had burst near the Kazakh financial capital Almaty when melt water swept through the area, flooding villages and causing mudslides.

"Some have died and their identity and number is being verified," the ministry said in a statement. It could give no further information when contacted by Reuters.

The Emergencies Ministry said the latest floods mainly affected two settlements, Zhylbulak and Kyzyl-Agash, where a total of about 4,000 people were evacuated to safer areas.

Separately, it said a helicopter with eight people on board disappeared from radar screens today during a separate rescue operation in eastern Kazakhstan where several districts were cut off from the rest of the country by heavy snowstorms.