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Perilous floods prompt tens of thousands to scramble in Russia's Far East

By Igor Krotov and Greg Botelho, CNN
August 19, 2013 -- Updated 0105 GMT (0905 HKT)
Flood waters hide the streets in Blagoveshchensk, Russia, on Friday, August 16. Aid was being flown into the city on Saturday.
Flood waters hide the streets in Blagoveshchensk, Russia, on Friday, August 16. Aid was being flown into the city on Saturday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 3 regions in Russia's Far East suffer catastrophic flooding
  • A government ministry says at least 18,000 are affected
  • Authorities set up 166 shelters, ship in emergency aid, state news reports

(CNN) -- Catastrophic flooding has prompted the evacuation of thousands upon thousands of people in Russia's Far East, a government ministry said Sunday, spurring hasty efforts to set up housing for the displaced.

Russia's emergency ministry said Sunday that 18,000 people had been affected in three regions north of China not far from the Sea of Okhotsk. RIA Novosti, a state-run news agency, identified the affected regions as the Amur region, Khabarovsk Territory and the Jewish Autonomous Region.

This report, citing an emergency ministry spokesperson, had an even larger number of people affected after heavy rains spurred the floods -- 32,000, of which 17,000 had been evacuated.

The evacuees had lived in thousands of homes and apartment buildings across 121 impacted towns and villages, including some like Amurskaya Oblast, Khabarovskiy Krai and Evreiskaya Oblast that were particularly devastated.

Authorities rushed to set up 166 temporary shelters and move in food, water and medical supplies, Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said, according to RIA Novosti. That report, for instance, said that a plane had headed to the city of Blagoveshchensk with 53 tons of aid, including food, life jackets and boats.

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting Saturday on the floods, after which he told local governors to be involved personally in the response.

"No one must be forgotten, and no one must be lost," he said, as reported by RIA Novosti.

The amount of rain should decrease, and the pace water levels are rising should slow down, after Tuesday, said local enviromental official Vyacheslav Parshin. The water in that river -- which is expected to reach 7 meters (23 feet) by August 25 -- had never been so high, Parshin said according to RIA Novosti.

The emergency ministry's report made no mention that anyone had been killed or injured as a result.

But flooding in the expansive nation of Russia has proved deadly before.

Last July, at least 141 people died after floods surged through southern Russia's Krasnodar region, state-run media reported, citing Russia's Interior Ministry.

Scores killed in Russia flooding

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