Russia to evacuate another 36,000 due to floods: official

Russia to evacuate another 36,000 due to floods: official
A man windsurfs at the flooded Lenin Stadium, which is the home arena of the local soccer club SKA-Energiya, in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk, September 1, 2013. President Vladimir Putin ordered an inquiry on Thursday into local officials' handling of Russia's worst floods in 120 years, which have cost the country nearly $1 billion. The banner reads: "Khabarovsk Krai (Region) is 75".

MOSCOW - Russian authorities said Tuesday 36,000 more people needed to be evacuated in the Far East as the floodwaters rose to over eight meters in some of the region's biggest cities.

Over the past few weeks Russians have been battling record floods after heavy rains pounding the region on the border with China swelled local rivers and wreaked havoc in the countryside and big cities.

Kremlin's Far Eastern envoy Yury Trutnev said local authorities planned to evacuate some 36,000 more people in the Khabarovsk region due to rising water levels.

Some 15,000 have already been moved to safety, Trutnev told Prime Minister Dmtiry Medvedev.

The level of Amur river, which serves as a natural border with China where it is known as the Heilongjiang river, has already risen to 805 centimetres (26 feet) around Khabarovsk, a city of 600,000, said Yury Varakin, head of the situation centre at Russian state weather service Rosgidromet.

The situation was even worse in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, a city of 260,000, where the water levels have risen to 820 centimetres, he said.

"The floods beat all historic records," Varakin told AFP.

The water is still rising and expected to reach the level of 820-830 centimetres in Khabarovsk by the weekend and 930-980 centimetres in Komsomolsk-on-Amur next week, he said.

There have been no reports of fatalities but officials said some 100,000 people have already been affected by the floods.

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