Russia – Thousands Evacuated After Floods in Amur and Irkutsk

A second wave of floods is affecting Russia’s Irkutsk region. The recent flooding began around 27 July, 2019 and comes after 25 people died and 7 are still missing from the first wave of floods that began in late June.

Satellite / radar image of flooding in areas near Tulun, Irkutsk region, Russia, July 2019. Water is shown as blue.  Image: Copernicus EMS

According to the Russian Emergencies Ministry, 2,699 people in 8 districts of the Irkutsk region have been affected by the new wave of floods that started after heavy rains in the area.

Russian news agency TASS said that the water level in the Iya river in the region reached 11.25 metres on 31 July, which is well above the 7 metre danger mark. During the first wave of flooding the river reached 14 metres in the town of Tulun.

Local newspaper The Siberian Times warned of an ecological disaster as flood waters threaten to push untreated toxic waste from a former pulp and paper mill in Baykalsk, Slyudyansky District, into Lake Baikal.

Flooding is also affecting the Far Eastern Amur region, where a state of emergency was declared on 25 July. Flooding has affected 600 homes and over 2,300 people have been evacuated. One of the worst hit areas is the city of Belogorsk and the surrounding district after flooding from the overflowing Tom River, a tributary of the Zeya River.

Meanwhile authorities in Russia have declared a state of emergency over wildfires in Siberia and the Far East. Almost 3 million hectares of land are estimated to have been affected, according to Russia’s Federal Forestry Agency.

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