Russian Flood Death Toll Rises; Heavy Rains Hit Southern Germany, Austria
MOSCOW – Giant cranes hoisted ruined cars and other debris out of the Black Sea on Monday, as the death toll from torrential flooding that hit the Russian resort region rose to 58.
Cleanup crews, working under sunny skies, scoured the normally crowded coastal beaches, searching for more bodies among the wreckage, said Irina Andriyanova, spokeswoman for the Emergency Situations Ministry in Moscow. She said that 44,000 square feet of coastline had been inspected.
Russia suffered most from the floodwaters that swept across Europe this past week, killing a total of 68 people, destroying homes and washing away roads and bridges.
Thousands of Russian tourists who had descended on the Black Sea Coast for their summer vacations were caught up in the surprise flooding. Many remain stranded, their cars swept out to sea by a wall of water that came rushing down from the mountains.
The Interfax news agency reported that as many as 4,000 tourists were still trapped in Shirokaya Balka, a scenic coastal village that was devastated by the flooding.
Ivan Aristov, deputy chief of the administration of the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, said that all would be offered the chance to return home. But Russia's NTV reported Monday that many tourists were choosing to stay, saying that they had already paid for their vacations.
In Germany, the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg both declared emergencies as weekend rains washed out roads, caused landslides and flooded homes.
Worst hit was the southeastern portion of Baden-Württemberg. In the city of Reutlingen, south of Stuttgart, roads and buildings were completely under water, causing electrical systems to short-circuit and spark fires.
In the southern Bavarian town of Moosach, residents had to be evacuated from their homes by boat, and in nearby Glonn, water was as high as the windows of many houses.
The only storm-related fatality, however, was reported in Lower Saxony when a 31-year-old man was killed when he lost control of the Red Cross van he was driving and hit a tree.
In Austria, a dam burst Sunday night in the town of Zwettl, submerging 50 to 60 houses, the Austria Press Agency reported. Homeowners were frantically piling sandbags to protect threatened houses and businesses.
Elsewhere in the province of Lower Austria, an afternoon deluge raised water levels in the Kamp River by 5 feet, Austrian radio reported. The river was rising so quickly that authorities were considering evacuating thousands of homeowners.