Home Europe Russia: Orenburg Hopes For Relief From Flood, Hopes Waters Will Recede

Russia: Orenburg Hopes For Relief From Flood, Hopes Waters Will Recede

People retrieve a submerged truck during flooding in Orenburg, Russia, April 12, 2024. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

The Russian authorities of Orenburg city urged the residents to evacuate on Friday as floodwaters surged, with major rivers overflowing following a rapid snowmelt.

The Ural River’s water level alarmingly increased by 40 centimetres over the last 10 hours, reaching a height of 11.43 metres, prompting local authorities to declare a state of emergency. This situation mirrored the rising waters in Kurgan and the evacuation of 100,000 people in neighbouring Kazakhstan, as unseasonably warm temperatures accelerated the thawing of dense snow and ice.

Orenburg, a city with a population of around 500,000, was the scene of frantic preparations as residents gathered essential items for evacuation. The mayor, Sergei Salmin, stressed the urgency on social media, noting that the city’s sirens were a signal of the immediate danger, not a drill. Over 360 residences and close to a thousand plots of land were already submerged.

Meanwhile, in Kurgan, a city integral to Russia’s military production, was also evacuated on Friday morning after the water level there rose 1.4 metres overnight. The regional governor, Vadim Shumkov, reported on social media that the village of Kaminskoye was evacuating due to a significant overnight rise in the Tobol River. Authorities hoped for the floodplain to absorb much of the water, as efforts were underway to reinforce a local dam.

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This flooding poses potential risks to strategic sites, including the Kurganmashzavod factory, vital to Russia’s military efforts in Ukraine, although no damages were reported yet. Authorities continue to monitor the situation closely, anticipating that the water levels might begin to recede after peaking on Friday.

President Putin had called an urgent meeting with the Emergency Situations minister and the governors of Orenburg, Tyumen and Kurgan, that rank among the worst affected. There were complaints from people who had been evacuated about the lack of competence of local officials and why they were not prepared for the snow melt.

(With inputs from Reuters)