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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Floods Spur Calls for Emergency Alerts Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov

The government faces growing pressure to install a new emergency warning system and improve weather forecasting after survivors complained that little was done to prevent scores of people being killed in floods in the south of the country.

Survivors said no flood warning had been issued before a huge wave rushed through Krymsk, the worst-hit town in the Krasnodar region, near the Black Sea, early on July 7.

The death toll in the region is 171, and many homes were destroyed.

"In fact, we should start from scratch a new system of collecting information and data that is not based on outdated methods and systems," Igor Chistyakov, a hydraulics professor, told reporters. "We must make sure the local authorities have all the data and can really act on the basis of them."

The government has accused district officials of making mistakes in their handling of the region's worst flooding in decades, including failing to warn people properly.

The accusations have helped prevent blame from being aimed at President Vladimir Putin, who toured the flood zone hours after the disaster struck and again on Sunday.

Chistyakov called for more investment in modern weather tracking, establishment of a road monitoring system and a review of the country's safety procedures, among other steps.

"No matter how many local leaders we dismiss, the warning system and then the rescue operation mechanisms remain the same. We need a systemic approach at a countrywide level," he said, adding that the revamp would still cost less than the several billion rubles earmarked to support the region now.

In Krymsk, a town of 57,000, many people were caught unawares by water pouring into their homes in the middle of the night. Witnesses said the elderly had little chance of surviving.

"The systemic problem we have is that meteorology alerts are being ignored," said Alexei Kokorin of the conservation organization WWF. "And that is happening at a time when we are clearly observing a rise in dangerous weather phenomena, [and] their frequency and intensity, in Russia and around the world,"

Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov, meanwhile, said Krymsk has plenty ofhumanitarian aid anddoes not need more donations.

"At themoment, we have eight main storerooms, which are all overfilled," Puchkov said during aconference call with journalists, Interfax reported.

"I express words ofgratitude forthe humanitarian aid, but I would ask [people] torefrain fromsending more toKrymsk," he said, adding that several convoys ofaid were still ontheir way tothe town.

During thecall, Puchkov also asked Federal Migration Service officials toincrease their presence inthe surrounding area, since 30 percent ofthe flood victims inKrymsk district weren't registered locally.

Aspokesman forthe migration service told Interfax that nine mobile groups were already working inthe area andthat new passports forthose who lost their documents inthe flooding were being prepared free ofcharge.

Puchkov also said nearly 35,000 people had suffered losses from the floods, nearly 30,000 of whom lost all their basic goods, while a further 5,500 saw a part of their belongings swept away.

Some 3,000 people were injured, and more than 800 cars were damaged, Puchkov said, adding that the state budget compensations would range from 100,000 to 1 million rubles for each person who suffered.

(Reuters, MT)