MOSCOW (AFP) – Flash floods in Russia’s southern Krasnodarsky Krai region have killed at least 78 people and affected nearly 13,000 in the area’s worst natural disaster in a decade, officials said Saturday.
Authorities discovered 56 bodies including that of a 10-year-old child in the district of Krymsk, regional police spokesman Igor Zhelyabin told AFP.
Nine more people died in the Black Sea resort town of Gelendzhik and another two died in the port of Novorossiisk over the past two days, he said. A previous death toll across the region stood at 53.
“A rescue operation is ongoing. More bodies are being discovered,” Zhelyabin said, adding that he expected the death toll to rise later in the day.
The administration of the Krasnodarsky Krai region, frequently battered by seasonal rains, said it was the worst flooding to hit the region in a decade.
“Non-stop rain showers have turned several districts of the region into an emergency zone,” it said in a statement, adding that floods affected the homes of nearly 13,000 people.
Gelendzhik alone received five months’ worth of rain in 24 hours, a major blow to the resort town at the height of the tourist season, it said.
“The floods were very strong. Even traffic lights were ripped out,” Zhelyabin said.
“Evacuations are under way,” he said.
Meanwhile authorities were working to identify the bodies, Zhelyabin said, adding: “It is hard to establish where they came from.”
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has set up a commission to help the victims, his office said.