Monday, July 16, 2012

Russia floods spur calls for emergency warnings

Gabriela Baczynska in Reuters: Russia's 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 through Krymsk, the worst-hit town in the Krasnodar region near the Black Sea, early on July 7. The death toll in the region was 171 and many homes were destroyed.

"In fact, we should start from scratch a new system of collecting information and data which is not based on outdated methods and systems," Igor Chistyakov, a hydraulics professor, told reporters.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 Russian government has accused district officials of making mistakes in their handling of the region's worst flooding for decades, including failing to warn people properly. The accusations have helped prevent blame being aimed at President Vladimir Putin, who toured the flood zone hours after 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 country-wide level," he said, adding that the revamp would still less than the several billion roubles earmarked to support the region now...

Recent flooding in Krymsk, shot by Маскитный, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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