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Emergency Ministry Chief Dies During Storm Rescue in Russia's Far East

Oleg Fediura Emergency Situations Ministry

The head of Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry for the Primorye Region has drowned while saving people from a tropical storm, the TASS news agency reported Friday.

On Friday, a truck carrying rescue workers, including ministry head Oleg Fediura, fell off a temporary ramp spanning the surging Pavlovka River. They were attempting to reach one of the villages hardest hit by the storm, the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement on its website.

Once the truck had fallen into the water, Fediura helped the eight other workers to safety but “he himself could not get out,” the statement said, adding that the other rescue workers had escaped unharmed.

A criminal case has been opened by the region's Investigative Committee. They are investigating whether Fediura's death was the result of negligence, a statement published Friday on the committee website said.

After leaving 11 dead in Japan, Typhoon Lionrock was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved over Russia's Primorye region in the Far East this week. The region’s hydrometeorological center says the storm, which has caused serious flooding and left some villages completely isolated, is the most powerful ever recorded in the region.

Fediura, 45, had overseen rescue operations, evacuations and the delivery of targeted aid in Primorye’s worst hit areas since Lionrock hit the region, the statement said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a state of emergency in the region on Friday. Evacuations continue, complicated by destroyed roads and severed communication lines.

The region experienced three times the average monthly rainfall fell in August and forecasters warn that the rain will continue until Friday evening. A strong cyclone is expected in the region on Sunday.

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