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Death Toll In Russian Floods Reaches At Least 99


Flooding hits the Black Sea resort town of Gelendzhik on July 7, where nine people were reported dead.
Russian police say at least 99 people have been killed after torrential rains leading to flash floods swept through parts of the southern Russian Krasnodar region.

Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova, speaking in Moscow, said that in addition to the deaths 91 people were injured, with almost half of them hospitalized, including 14 children.

Regional police spokesman Igor Zhelyabin earlier said nine people died in the Black Sea resort town of Gelendzhik and two in the port of Novorossiisk over the past two days.

Zhelyabin said emergency teams had been sent from Moscow by plane and helicopter to the affected areas.

He added that up to 1,000 rescuers were involved in searching for victims and evacuating survivors.

See reporting by RFE/RL's Russian Service here (in Russian)

Officials have not been able to explain the large number of deaths, except by saying that the disaster struck while residents were asleep.

The opposition Yabloko party claimed the multiple deaths in the Krymsk district of the Kuban region were caused by a discharge of water from a nearby mountain reservoir.

Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin said, "The population was not notified about the discharge, which is one of the reasons of the tragedy."

The authorities have denied the report, which could not immediately be independently confirmed.

A state of emergency has been declared in many areas of Krasnodar.

In the city of Kuban, resident Svetlana Savidy told Russian television: "Within the last 15 minutes the water level has risen up to the chest. The lower floors are inundated. All our stuff is gone -- the furniture, the belongings. All that we had is lost. It is terrible because we have no idea what we will do."

Officials say the flash floods have affected the homes of nearly 13,000 people.

Based on reporting by Interfax and AFP