by Staff Writers
Krymsk, Russia (AFP) July 10, 2012
Residents of a flood-devastated Russian region on Tuesday picked through damaged homes and collected donated clothing amid ongoing criticism of the way officials handled the disaster.
In the worst affected town of Krymsk, the lack of sanitation and high temperatures provoked fears of a disease epidemic, and officials sought to allay the concerns.
Russia's chief sanitary doctor, Gennady Onishchenko, insisted that the infection level in Krymsk was "stable" after tabloid website Lifenews reported that 50 people had been hospitalised in an infections ward.
He called the reports of mass infections "an irresponsible lie," speaking to the RIA Novosti news agency.
The authorities of the affected Krasnodar region slightly raised the death toll, saying on their website that "according to the latest official information, the number of those who suffered from the flooding has reached 30,000 and 172 people have died."
Meanwhile the head of A Just Russia opposition party, Sergei Mironov, appealed to Putin to dismiss the governor of the southern region, Alexander Tkachev, for "improper conduct of his duties," the Interfax news agency said.
Tkachev responded defiantly. "If they put Mironov here, would it be any different? I doubt it. Try first, then judge," he told Vesti FM radio station.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ordered officials to finish rebuilding the around 400 houses destroyed by November at the latest.
The regional authorities said in a statement on Tuesday that 80 percent of the town of Krymsk now had electricity while they planned to fully restore running water on Wednesday.
They complained of rumours sweeping the town including one that people were being asked to sign statements saying they had been warned of the flooding in order to receive compensation, calling these "nonsensical."
Yet business daily Kommersant on Tuesday cited one woman, Polina Nailushkina, 54, as saying she had been told to sign such a statement to register as a victim, after her sister and brother-in-law died in the floods.
The authorities have been widely criticised for failing to adequately warn residents of the swiftly rising flood water and evacuate them, with many dying trapped in their homes at night.
Nailushkina told Kommersant that she had been awake on a night shift with a working television and telephone but had heard nothing.
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