Russia, Kazakhstan order evacuations amid severe flooding

Russia and Kazakhstan have evacuated more than 100,000 people due to the worst flooding in decades, caused by rapidly melting snow that has caused rivers to swell.

Scores of settlements along the Ural Mountains, Siberia, and neighboring areas in Kazakhstan have been inundated. Local officials report rivers such as the Ural and Tobol have risen by meters within hours, reaching record levels.

In Orenburg, a city with a population of approximately 550,000, the Ural River late Tuesday surged to 9.31 meters (30.5 feet), slightly above the critical mark of 9.30 meters. Regional Governor Denis Pasler urged residents in vulnerable areas to evacuate immediately.

“I am calling for caution and for those in flooded districts to evacuate promptly,” Pasler stated on Telegram.

Residents of the city have been seen paddling along submerged streets. Authorities are working to reinforce dams and embankments to manage the overflow.

Further upstream, in the city of Orsk, floodwaters breached an embankment dam last Friday. Although water levels in Orsk have receded by 21 centimeters (8.27 inches) to 9.07 meters, they remain well above the danger level of about 7 meters. The Russian Emergencies Ministry acknowledged the decline in water levels across several areas but described the overall situation as “still difficult.”

The Ural, Europe’s third-longest river, flows through Russia and Kazakhstan into the Caspian Sea.