At least 171 people have died and 29,000 have lost power in severe flooding in southern Russia after unprecedented torrential rains hit the region late Saturday night, the Associated Press reports.State television reported nearly a foot of rain – equivalent to three months of rainfall in a typical year – poured on the hilly Black Sea region of Krasnodar Krai in less than 24 hours and formed waves that rushed into towns.
The worst-hit place was Krymsk, about 120 miles from where Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The town was hit with a wall of water more than 10 feet high that swept through so strongly that residents suspected that the gates of a reservoir in the mountains above had been opened, but local officials denied the possibility.
On Sunday Federal investigators insisted that heavy and sudden rainfall had caused the flood but did acknowledge that water had been released naturally from the nearby Neberdzhaevsky reservoir.
A blog post on English Russia, which has photos of the devastation, noted that the reservoir autodrained for 13 hours during the rains.
A Reuters cameraman said that from a helicopter it was visible that a large amount of water had escaped from the reservoir and a pipe was refilling the body of water.
President Vladimir Putin declared Monday a national day morning as Russia’s emergencies minister accused local officials of not doing enough to warn residents.
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