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Chilcote: Russians search for flood victims

Torrential rains have engulfed the village of Shirokaya Balka in Russia.
Torrential rains have engulfed the village of Shirokaya Balka in Russia.  

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Heavy flooding has devastated Russia's Black Sea resort region, killing at least 58 people.

Many of the victims were vacationers visiting the region's beach resorts.

Correspondent Ryan Chilcote described the scene Sunday to CNN Anchor Kris Osborn.

CHILCOTE: The water came from some mountain lakes and streams that had overflowed above these resort towns and beaches.

It came down on this area very quickly. It took many Russians that, as you said, were there on vacation and local residents with it.

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Search and recovery operations are really just getting under way right now because the weather has improved -- it began improving on Saturday.

So far workers are ... getting going. They're recovered, as you said, 58 bodies so far. Many of the dead are women and children who just couldn't get out of the way in time.

The destruction in this area is really quite amazing -- nearly total. Along with the people it took cars, houses and bridges with it.

And the emergency workers are making their way through the debris as fast as possible but it's not easygoing.

And they say that the search for the dead does not depend on them alone. They're saying that many of the missing may have been washed to sea and that it will be difficult to find them and that they'll just have to wait for those they can't find to wash back ashore. Somebody said that they think it might take as many as three to 10 days.

So obviously the death toll in this really tragic situation is going to continue to rise. Back to you, Kris.

OSBORN: I understand that a lot of vehicles were swept into the sea. And then also I understand the flooding was accompanied by a violent tornado. Do you -- what about that?

CHILCOTE: That water was moving very violently and it washed lots of vehicles into the sea and people.

And, like you said, there was a tornado happening at the same time -- so really two very unfortunate events hitting this area that had already been hit just two months before with massive flooding. So obviously they're hoping for better weather in the future in this area.

And right now they are focusing on cleaning up the area and trying to ... account for all of the people that are in that area.

OSBORN: Well, as you said, with weather improving, of course, the prospects for finding more people improve.

CHILCOTE: Yes. It's just basically a very difficult time now. A lot of the people that were there were there on vacation so the local officials are going through the lists for the people in the local hotels to find out exactly who was there so they can figure out who to look for. It's going to be a long process.

And the death toll -- it will rise but they continue to -- they plan to continue to work to do every thing they can.




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