Five regions in Russia's Far East declared a state of emergency amid flooding assessed by the national weather center as the worst in the country's history.
Floods were heaviest in the Amur region, Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said today on a videoconference. Conditions are set to worsen as Typhoon Utor moves closer to Russia from China, dumping more rain on inundated areas and potentially lifting the Amur River's water level to the highest in more than a century, the center said on its website.
"We should not relax," President Vladimir Putin, who participated in the videoconference along with regional governors and defense, health and emergency officials, said from the Black Sea city of Sochi. "There's a lot of work ahead."
More than 300 millimeters (11.8 inches) of rain fell on the Amur, Khabarovsk and Primorye regions from July 1 through Aug. 12, causing floods there and in the neighboring Jewish Autonomous Region, according to data from the weather center. Some areas in the Far East received a year's rain in the period, the center said yesterday.
"We have never seen such a large-scale flood in our country's history," Alexander Frolov, chief forecaster at the center, said today on state television channel Rossiya 24. "The flood covers territory from Lake Baikal to the Pacific Ocean."
The Emergencies Ministry evacuated more than 17,500 people from the Amur, Khabarovsk and Jewish Autonomous regions as of 7 a.m. Moscow time today, according to its data. The water level in the city of Khabarovsk topped 20 feet by 8 p.m. local time today, exceeding the historic record, Frolov said.
Utor affected more than 2.5 million people in China, causing at least four deaths in Guangdong Province and destroying almost 4,000 houses, the official Xinhua news service reported, citing the local flood control and drought relief headquarters.