Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Floods Devastate Crops, Villages in South Siberia

Floodwaters have put villages under water, washed away bridges and wiped out crops in the southern Siberian region of Chita, emergency officials said Thursday, warning that more flooding was likely.

"As soon as we secure the banks of one river, another gives way," said Colonel Vladimir Pyestkov, chief of Chita's emergency rescue service. "We have 2,500 people working around the clock and don't expect the situation to ease for another two days."

At least one person has died in the region some 4,700 kilometers east of Moscow on the Chinese border, he said in a telephone interview.

Pyestkov said 121 villages were flooded, affecting more than 15,300 people, but only 120 families had to be evacuated and most have returned to their homes.

In the region's cities, about 4,500 apartment blocks have suffered water damage, as well as 239 regional buildings. Eight hundred kilometers of roads and 147 bridges have been washed away, while 13 kilometers of telephone lines were down. Most potato and grain crops were ruined.

A state of emergency was declared in the southeastern districts of Sretensky, Nerchinsky and Chernyshevsky on Monday.

In the past month, Chita has gotten three times as much rain as usual, due to a front that swept into the region from neighboring Mongolia. Some rivers have risen by as much as 30 centimeters, Pyestov said.

Damage was estimated at 285 million rubles ($45 million) by Thursday, he said.

Every year, floods in Russia inflict more material damage than any other natural disasters, said Irina Andrianova, a spokeswoman for the Emergency Situations Ministry. This year has been significantly worse than last, she said.