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Vladimir Putin admits the Russian Far East is 'taking a beating' from the worst-ever floods

By The Siberian Times reporter
29 August 2013

The Russian president spoke after flying over devastated settlements, and fields were crops have been destroyed.

Vladimir Putin sees first hand the appalling flood toll in the Russian Far East. Picture: kremlin.ru

'We're taking a beating, but we're getting stronger,' he said at a meeting with farmers whose arable land has turned into massive lakes. 'I know that you've fought very courageously for your crops and livestock, but weather elements are what they are. Our challenge now is to minimise losses.'

Weeks of downpours caused by cyclones over the Pacific mean an almost area as large as California and Texas combined is underwater, with forecasts of worst to come. The Amur River burst its banks with a direct threat to Khabarovsk which Putin also visited today. Reports say more than 100,000 have been directly hit by the flooding, and the damage runs into many billions of roubles. 

Farmers who met Putin called for help from major banks to allow them to rebuild their agricultural businesses. Many have seen their crops - and their hopes - wash away with the floodwater. 

One farmer told Putin, according to RIA Novosti: 'I took out a loan from Sberbank [Russia's largest bank]. If Rosselkhozbank has made at least a couple statements in support of the farmers, Sberbank has been silent so far'. 

Vladimir Putin inspects flooded area in the Far East of Russia

Vladimir Putin inspects the flooded areas in the Far East of Russia together with Amur region Governor Oleg Kozhemyako and President's Envoy of the Far East of Russia Victor Ishayev. Picture: kremlin.ru 

The Russian president flew by helicopter over villages in Blagoveshchensk district and held talks with senior officials on the crisis. The Kremlin leader also saw waterlogged  settlements, including the Vladimirovka village, where the flood reached the second floor and even the roofs of houses at its  peak.

He was accompanied on his helicopter tour by Amur region Governor Oleg Kozhemyako and President's Envoy of the Far East of Russia Victor Ishayev.

After the flight Putin held a meeting with Kozhemyako, Ishaeyv and Emergency Ministry representatives. Putin also met the heads of farmers communities, damaged by floods, and discussed what necessary measures of support can be provided in Amur region, seven time zones east of Moscow.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Minister of Emergency Situations Vladimir Puchkov examined the flooded districts in Khabarovsk on Thursday. Some residents have faced flooding of Biblical proportions as the Amur River burst its banks. The high level visits came amid warnings that aggressive bears - hungry due to the flooding which prevents them getting their natural food - are threatening villages. 

Yevgeny Shukshin,  police chief in Polina Osipenko district, Khabarovsk region, was quoted warning: 'The chance of meeting predators has increased. Hunger drives the animals closer to humans and forces them to search for food at garbage dumps. More and more often we are being informed of bears approaching villages'.

The flood toll is getting worse by the day, and the Amur's level continues to rise in Khabarovsk, which may cause thousands to be evacuated in the Russian Far East's second largest city.

The level of the river has risen from  745cm in Khabarovsk city on Wednesday to over 760cm on Thursday. The level of 780cm is seen as critical. 

flooding in the Far East of Russia August 2013


Flooding 2013 the Far East of Russia


Flooding 2013 the Far East of Russia


Flooding 2013 the Far East of Russia


Flooding 2013 the Far East of Russia


Flooding 2013 the Far East of Russia


Flooding 2013 the Far East of Russia


Flooding 2013 the Far East of Russia


Flooding 2013 the Far East of Russia


Flooding 2013 the Far East of Russia

The water is rising...  Citizins of Khabarovsk, soldiers and volunteers work together, protecting the city from the flood. Pictures: Alexander Golovko 

Currently, 7,000 homes are flooded and since the crisis began last month rescuers have evacuated 23,802 people, including 8,440 children, from flood zones in the Amur region, the Khabarovsk territory and the Jewish Autonomous region.

Some 4,415 houses with 23,601 tenants - including 5,762 children - are inundated in 46 settlements of the Amur region. The number of people evacuated from the flood zone reached 16,234, including 5,861 children, reported Itar-Tass. 

In Khabarovsk territory, 1,510 houses with 4,861 tenants, including 938 children, are now inundated in 40 settlements. 2,538 have been evacuated, including 560 children. 

In the Jewish Autonomous Area, 1,248 houses with 5,030 tenants, including 1,185 children remain flooded in 23 settlements. Some 8,444, including 2,019 children, have been evacuated. 'Taking part in relief efforts in these three regions are 28,000 rescuers with more than 4,500 units of equipment, 22 aircraft and 2 unmanned aerial vehicles,' reported Itar-Tass. 

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