Russia evacuates 4,000 people after dam bursts, floods near Kazakh border

Russia said it has evacuated more than 4,000 people in the Orenburg region near the Kazakhstan border due to flooding after a dam burst.

The Orenburg governor’s office said on Saturday that “4,208 people, including 1,019 children” had been evacuated and more than 2,500 homes were affected by floods that caused the dam to give way on Friday following torrential rain.

Governor Denis Pasler said the flood had reached its “peak”, adding that the situation was especially difficult in Orsk, a border city of 230,000 people.

Officials said on Saturday that some 2,000 people were evacuated from their homes in Orsk alone. Orsk is located in the Ural mountains’ Orenburg region.

But the authorities said that the situation was difficult throughout the region and warned of dangerous water levels on the Ural river in the main city of Orenburg.

Video footage published by the emergency services ministry showed residents being helped into lifeboats, wearing life jackets. Thousands of homes were submerged, Russian news agencies reported.

Russia also opened a criminal case for “negligence and violation of construction safety rules” over the burst dam, which was built in 2014.

The local prosecutor’s office said the dam had been breached due to poor maintenance, according to Russian news agencies.

Several regions in the Urals and western Siberia have been affected by floods at the start of spring, and also parts of Kazakhstan.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said the flooding may be Kazakhstan’s largest natural disaster in terms of scale and impact for 80 years.

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