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Russia’s Ishim River Swells to Record High Amid Widespread Flooding

An aerial view of flooding in the town of Ishim. Russian Ministry of Construction Press Office / TASS

Water levels in the Ishim River in Russia’s Tyumen region have hit an all-time high, regional authorities said Monday, causing a large traffic backup along a major highway.

“The water level in the Ishim River isn’t decreasing. It even increased due to yesterday’s rainfall. The historical maximum of [12.15 meters] has been reached,” Tyumen region Governor Alexander Moor said on the messaging app Telegram.

“The water is already higher than asphalt in some places, but the embankment is keeping the [Tyumen-Omsk] highway from overflowing,” he added. According to Moor, high water levels in the Ishim River has led to a traffic jam stretching around 60 kilometers along both sides of the Tyumen-Omsk highway.

Since early April, Russia and neighboring Kazakhstan have been battling devastating floods that have forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. 

Spring flooding caused by melting ice is common in some parts of Russia, but this year’s heavy rainfall, combined with unusually warm spring weather, has led to severe flooding in Russia’s Urals and western Siberia.

Authorities in the Tyumen region declared a state of emergency on April 8 due to the swelling rivers, with mandatory evacuations ordered in two regional districts. Officials previously said the Ishim River would reach peak levels around April 23-25.

In mid-April, regional authorities urged residents to flee their homes as the nearby Ishim and Tobol rivers swelled to dangerous levels.

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