Government admits mistakes after 170 die in Russian flash floods
The Russian government on Monday admitted that mistakes had been made in its handling of flash floods in the south of the country in which more than 170 people were killed, dpa reported.
"Local leaders and government agencies made mistakes," said Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov. Residents affected by flooding, which began on Friday, had not been given sufficient warning, he said, according to the news agency Interfax.
The Kremlin on Monday declared a day of mourning after the worst flooding in the country's recent history. Putin had visited the worst affected city of Krimsk, which was hit by a seven-foot-high wall of water and where at least 140 people drowned, on Saturday.
Parts of the city, some 300 kilometres north of Sochi, the venue for next year's Winter Olympics, were still under water Monday. Thousands of people whose homes were flooded were still waiting for emergency aid, including food and clothing.
Emergency workers were also continuing the search for more victims in and around the Krasnodar holiday resort region of the Black Sea.
Witnesses told Russian media that the number of dead was far higher than reported, while bloggers accused the authorities of hiding the true extent of the disaster.
"The catastrophe in Krimsk was not just predictable, it was preventable," said tabloid Moskovski Komzomolets in an editorial. "The Russian people are used to the dishonesty of public offices. The main reproach remains why nobody gave any warning of the floods."
It was still unclear why Krimsk, which has a population of 60,000 and is located in a mountainous region, had been hit by such heavy flooding.
Some residents said the wall of water was caused by authorities opening the floodgates of a nearby dam.
Investigators have admitted that water was drained from the reservoir, but denied it was a contributory factor to the flash floods. Prosecutors are investigating for possible negligence.