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Heavy Floods Hit Russia’s Far East

Village of Betenkes in the Verkhoyansky District of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Yakutia branch of the Russia Emergencies Ministry / TASS

Several villages in Russia's Far East republic of Sakha are facing severe flooding following heavy rainfall, local authorities said, prompting a state of emergency in the country’s coldest and largest region.

The government of Sakha said the rains had broken structures around a dam and left a remote village in Siberia "almost entirely" flooded.

"Due to heavy rains on July 11, despite the installation of protective structures, a dam broke and flooded the village of Betenkes almost entirely," the regional government wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

The small village lies on the banks of the Adycha River in northeastern Siberia.

Villages on the banks of the Adycha, Dulgalakhr and Borulakh rivers have been badly affected by the latest flooding, with dozens of residents evacuated, Sakha’s weather service said on Telegram.

The remote villages of Suordakh and Tomtor, which have a combined population of around 600, also flooded, damaging 100 buildings and homes.

"At 7:00 a.m. this morning, the water level reached a critical 1,000 centimeters (33 feet)," the local government said.

It said 36 homes and more than 100 plots of land had been flooded.

A dozen people were in temporary accommodation, while 72 others were staying with relatives, it added.

The local government published photos of rescuers on a small boat leading horses through the flooded village, surrounded by wooden houses in deep water. 

Almost eight tons of humanitarian aid, including food and drinking water, have been flown to affected areas, it said. 

“The main priorities are to minimize damage in the settlements and prevent threats to people’s lives and health,” Aisen Nikolaev, the regional head of Sakha, said at an emergency meeting Tuesday.

Sakha, also known as Yakutia, has been devastated in recent years by increasingly severe summer wildfires that experts and Russian officials have linked to climate change. These fires, along with extreme heatwaves, are expected to be more frequent and more severe as the planet continues to warm.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made comments earlier in his rule suggesting skepticism about climate change but has in recent years ordered his government to protect Russia from the effects of changing weather.

AFP contributed reporting.

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