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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Payments Doubled for Dam Victims’ Families

RIA-Novosti / APPrime Minister Vladimir Putin visiting the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant Friday with Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, right.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday ordered that compensation be doubled to 2 million rubles ($63,200) to the families of victims killed in the Siberian dam disaster.

“We will rebuild the equipment. The people cannot be brought back. This is the greatest sorrow,” Putin said as he opened a disaster relief meeting in the village of Cheryomushki, near the dam.

Putin said the federal government would match each 1 million ruble payment from RusHydro, the state company that operates the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station.

The federal compensation will cover not only the victims that have officially been declared dead, but also the missing persons, Putin said, adding that there was little hope of recovering anyone else alive.

The death toll from the accident rose to 69 people on Sunday, as emergency workers found two more bodies, said Sergei Shaposhnikov, chief of the Emergency Situations Ministry’s disaster relief headquarters at the dam. Six people remained missing, he said.

The federal government will also pay additional compensation to victims’ children who are under 18, Putin said, without naming an amount. He ordered that children from affected families be provided with free higher education.

RusHydro could rebuild the station within three years, or at least one year earlier than previous estimates, RusHydro acting chief executive Vasily Zubakin said Sunday, Vesti television reported. Power Machines, a power turbine maker, has promised to speed up construction of turbines for the station, Zubakin said.

In order to prevent such accidents, Putin told his Cabinet on Friday to identify the cause of the disaster, inspect all other strategic installations and raise work discipline there.

Putin ordered the Energy Ministry and RusHydro to submit a plan to rebuild the station to the Cabinet within six weeks. New equipment for the station must be state-of-the-art and manufactured urgently, he said.

Putin ordered the Investigative Committee to prevent contractors hired to rebuild the station from inflating prices.

The accident, which occurred last Monday, has made the completion of the Boguchanskaya hydropower station a priority, Putin said. RusHydro is building the station with United Company RusAl.

Since demand for electricity will grow when winter sets in, backup stations and transmission lines from them must be ready for the increased workload, Putin said, adding that 20 Siberian power stations have had to resort to extra capacity to make up for Sayano-Shushenskaya. Much of the replacement electricity comes from burning coal, a much more expensive option than hydropower. Putin warned private electricity firms against increasing the prices that they charge, saying the government would allow just a modest rise.

Putin gave the Justice and Energy ministries until Sept. 10 to propose legislation for the government to regulate prices in the event of future disasters.