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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Regions Warned of Flooding

APA boy wading through his flooded yard in the far eastern village of Putsilovka last July.
Recent checks in flood-prone regions found that many are not ready to handle the spring thaw despite the flood disaster last year that killed more than 170 people, the Prosecutor General's Office said Friday.

Weather forecasters, meanwhile, predicted that dozens of towns and villages in northern, central and far eastern Russia will be swamped by flood waters as chucks of melting ice clog the flow of rivers.

The country suffers some $500,000 in flood damages every year, but for the past two years, spring and summer flooding has been especially devastating.

President Vladimir Putin last year lambasted local officials and emergency workers for not preventing the disaster and for dragging their feet on providing relief.

The Prosecutor General's Office said Friday that it conducted close inspections of the regions' flood-prevention facilities ahead of the spring thaw and was shocked at what it found.

"Our prosecutors were horrified at the state of some facilities," prosecutor's office spokesman Leonid Troshin said, declining to elaborate.

"We will prosecute all cases of negligence," he said.

The federal weather center said the northern Arkhangelsk region would be the first to see drastic flooding, with water in the Dvina River rising 1.5 meters to 1.8 meters above flood level.

Other areas likely to be affected include Lipetsk, Bryansk, Kaluga, Kursk, Oryol, Ryazan, Kirov, Bashkortostan, Naryan-Mar, Barnaul, Khanty-Mansiisk and Magadan.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said federal money for flood prevention would be released soon but could not say how much and when.

Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said past experience meant this year's efforts will be better planned and coordinated.

"No one wants to step on that rake a second time," Beltsov said.

"We can work to minimize the damage and, in some cases, the number of casualties, but we cannot prevent it from happening," he said. "After all, it is a natural disaster."

Arkhangelsk officials said they will be ready to evacuate residents.

"We expect that at least 10 towns and villages will be affected and might require evacuation," said Alexander Bakin, deputy head of the flood taskforce in the Arkhangelsk administration.

The areas most at risk are located in the Kotlass district, bordering with the Vologda region, he said.

"We should be able to handle it if we coordinate our efforts with the Vologda administration," Bakin said.

He added, however, that Arkhangelsk needs some 5 million rubles ($160,000) for flood prevention and was counting on the federal government for most of the amount.

Reached by telephone Friday, an official in the Bryansk administration said he was surprised to learn that weather forecasters had put his region on the list of territories at risk. Bryansk is located on the bank of the Desna River.

"This is not an uncontrollable disaster. It is a natural for the river to swell in spring," said the official, Vladimir Vladimirov.

Meanwhile, prosecutors of the North Caucasus branch of the Prosecutor General's Office are investigating several local administrations that failed to quickly evacuate residents during widespread flooding in southern Russia last summer.

In Krasnodar, the worst-hit region last summer, charges have been filed against 40 people accused of destroying their homes in an attempt to collect government compensation, the Gazeta newspaper reported Friday.