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Russia's Far East Struggles With Record Flooding

Russian military personnel build barricades on the banks of the Amur River to protect against further flooding.
Russian officials continue efforts to cope with record flooding in the Far East region.

The Amur River on August 18 reached its historical record high in the area around the city of Khabarovsk.

According to forecasts, the river could continue rising until August 25 and the flooding will likely only recede significantly in September.

More than 5,000 residential buildings in 66 settled areas have been flooded and more than 35,000 people have been affected.

"The [flooded] area is primarily rural. It is a colossal area if you inspect if from an airplane," Russian Deputy Labor and Social Affairs Minister Aleksei Vovchenko told journalists. "There has never been anything of such magnitude. Individual farms, fruit and vegetable gardens, and cattle make up the essential source of living of [the affected] people. Given the fact that all has been lost, Amurskaya Oblast has already been busy issuing relevant decisions to simply help stock all those people with essential winter reserves."

An Emergencies Ministry officer helps a woman escape from her flooded house outside Khabarovsk.
An Emergencies Ministry officer helps a woman escape from her flooded house outside Khabarovsk.
The Russian Defense Ministry has sent doctors to the area. Health officials are warning residents to disinfect their drinking water.

"All available resources have been mobilized, including units of armed forces that are helping set up tent camps and permanent shelters," Vovchenko said. "The [relief] effort is truly colossal. It is bigger than anything we have ever seen."

He said there have been 25,000 applications for emergency financial assistance from people in the disaster zone.

Chief health inspector Gennady Onishchenko warned that flood waters from contaminated rivers in China are bringing harmful microbes and pollutants into the region.

He said, however, that the health situation in the region is "stable."

With reporting by ITAR-TASS, Interfax, Reuters, and Rossia 24
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