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Russian Officials Admit Mistakes Over Handling Of Floods


The Russian government has acknowledged that mistakes were made in how authorities responded to flash floods in the Black Sea region of Krasnodar that have left more than 170 people dead.

Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov was quoted as saying on July 9 that flood warnings issued by his ministry had failed to reach all residents who were affected by the floods.

The governor of Krasnodar territory has dismissed the mayor of the city of Krymsk and the head of the Krymsk region.

Governor Aleksandr Tkachev said the officials had been warned of the impending floods "at least three hours" before they began.

The flash flood struck in the early morning hours on July 7, catching most residents in their sleep.

Tkachev also criticized officials for being slow to respond to the incident and leaving many locals stranded on their roofs for hours.

Dimissed Krymsk region head Vasily Krutko said on July 8 that he had been warned late on July 7 and had done everything possible to warn residents.

The Krasnodar territory will host the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, addressing a government meeting in Moscow on July 9, called for a probe into the flood-warning system.

"According to preliminary data, [the flood] was caused by natural phenomena," Putin said. "However, we should analyze thoroughly what [flood] warning services and hydroengineering facilities have and have not done, and what still needs to be done, not only at that site but also in other places where similar situations may occur."

Russia is observing a day of national mourning for the floods' victims.

Torrential rains and flooding July 7 inundated some 5,000 homes, mostly in Krymsk. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes. About 1,500 emergency workers are continuing recovery and rescue operations.

Tkachev is one of Russia's longest-serving regional governors and a close Putin ally. In March, then-President Dmitry Medvedev named him the presidential representative for relations with the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia.

Based on reporting from AP, Reuters, dpa, and Interfax

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