Russian army in battle to erect dikes to hold back the swirling Amur River as evacuations begin in low-lying areas.
The Far East of Russia is hit by the worst flooding in history. Picture from Khabarovsk: Alexander Golovko
Satellite maps released by NASA show the phenomenal swelling of rivers in the Russian Far East after heavy cyclonic rainfall, causing the worst flooding since records began with Khabarovsk - population 578,000 - literally in the eye of the storm.
The expected rise in the water level, to a depth of 8.3 metres, is now expected on 2 to 3 September, a full week later than previously forecast. The level of the river early on Saturday was 7.2 metres, with an expected 8.3 metres by early next month.
Normally, the river - which is prone to flooding - is 3.4 metres deep so the current level, graphically highlighted by the satellite pictures, is more than double its normal depth. Reports say around 1,200 people, including 229 children, have been evacuated so far from three districts.
A total of 709 houses, 948 yards and around 4,000 country houses are deluged.
A rise of over 7.8 metres - now predicted on 28 August - could trigger mass evacuations by the authorities, though the huge efforts by troops and emergency workers to dike the Amur in key places, and pump out floodwater, may lessen the need for evacuations.
Aerial views of Amur river, pictures taken in years 2008 and August 2013. Pictures: NASA
Acting governor Vyacheslav Shport said: 'Today we are proceeding with dike construction; we are pouring down sand along the central embankment of the city. 'We are working to save historical monuments. The dikes are being worked on around the clock. The temporary barriers that we are erecting now are supposed to prevent the water from entering the city', he said.
Around the region, 708 houses, 948 farms and about 4,000 cottages were flooded. Elsewhere, in the Jewish Autonomous Region the Amur is also causing severe problems. Deputy chairman of the region's government Dmitry Prokhodtsev said: 'The situation is complicating. In the last 24 hours the water level has risen up to 15 centimetres. We're erecting dams'.
In total, 832 houses have been flooded in the region, reported Itar-Tass.
The major highway from Khabarovsk to Komsomolsk-on-Amur was flooded this week.
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