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Flood-Struck Krasnodar Needs More Volunteers, Officials Say

Volunteer teams distributing food at an emergency shelter in the Krasnodar region

Krasnodar authorities said Tuesday that there is a desperate lack of volunteers in the region after flash flooding swept through the region over the weekend, killing more than 170 people and wrecking local infrastructure.

"Although huge forces of rescuers and equipment are concentrated here, there is an urgent need for workers. To carry out work in difficult field circumstances, it is essential to have physically strong people," officials said in a statement on the regional administration's website.

Regional authorities added that additional volunteer groups were soon to be sent to Krymsk, a town of 57,000 that suffered close to 150 casualties, and advised workers to take camping gear, construction tools and personal hygiene items with them.

Authorities now estimate that the flooding, the worst to hit the region in the past 70 years, killed 172 people and caused upward of 4 billion rubles ($121 million) of damage. The death toll stood at 171 people on Monday.

Alexander Kazlikin, regional emergency situations chief, denied Tuesday that authorities could have predicted such extreme water flows in Krymsk, where eyewitnesses spoke of a wall of water moving through the town center.

"The wave passed through half the town at a height of 5.95 to 6.98 meters," Kazlikin told RIA-Novosti. "It was impossible to predict such a wave."

Officials' appeal for more help comes as emergency workers almost doubled their estimate of the number of residents seeking medical assistance in the wake of the floods.

According to an Emergency Situations Ministry statement, by Tuesday morning more than 1,300 people, including about 500 children, had received medical attention in areas affected by the flooding.

Emergency workers said roughly 35,000 people lost property in the natural disaster and that almost 50,000 Krasnodar region residents have been without one or more utility (electricity, running water or gas) since Friday night.

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