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Russian floods raise governance questions

world Updated: Jul 10, 2012 00:23 IST

AFP
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Russia on Mondayheld a day of mourning for at least 171 people who died in its worst flooding disaster as questions mounted over whether officials did enough to warn of the impending calamity.

Flags flew at half-mast over the Kremlin and other official buildings and entertainment programmes were shelved as Russians asked how so many people lost their lives and property in the catastrophe in the southern Krasnodar region.

More than 25,000 people lost part of all of their belongings in the flooding, which overwhelmed the town of Krymsk after torrential rains and also caused significant damage in the neighbouring cities of Gelendzhik and Novorossiisk.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev cancelled a planned meeting over Russia's hosting of the Olympics in 2014 -- in the city of Sochi in a different area of the Krasnodar region—to review the disaster, official media said.

The embattled local governor described the floods as a “great surprise” but both pro-government and opposition newspapers showed rare unanimity in saying the authorities had badly failed to provide locals with sufficient warning.

“The tragedy of Krymsk was a perfect demonstration of what slovenliness and hoping against hope brings about,” said the pro-Kremlin Izvestia daily in a assessment of official reaction.

“The catastrophe shows up the inability of the authorities to protect the population from natural disasters,” said The Vedomosti daily.