|A car submerged in a flooded street in the village of Novoukrainsk, near the southern Russian town of Krymsk, July 7, 2012. (Photo:Reuters)|
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered investigators to find out if enough was done to prevent 144 people being killed in floods in southern Russia after flying to the region to deal with the first big disaster of his new presidency.
Putin, who was criticised for his slow reaction to disasters earlier in his career, said after visiting the flood zone late on Saturday that money would be put aside for building new homes for victims of the worst flooding in decades in Krasnodar, a relatively rich region with agriculture and tourism industries.
An Interior Ministry crisis centre said 144 people had been killed in the flooding after two months' average rainfall fell in a few hours on Friday night. Most of the dead were drowned, many of them elderly people caught unawares as they slept.
Police said survivors climbed into trees and onto roofs to stay above the waters, which flooded entire ground floors of some buildings and created driving torrents in some streets.
Rail traffic resumed on Sunday after being suspended on Saturday and a spokesman at the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, the main outlet for wheat from the world's second largest exporter and an important loading port for crude oil as well, said crude loadings would restart on Sunday.
The spokesman did not say when grain exports would resume. Power was still being restored to parts of the port, he said. Almost 30,000 homes were also without electricity and gas, emergency officials said.
The consequences of the flash flood could be more lasting for Putin, though he moved swiftly on Saturday to show he was on top of the rescue effort.
Putin and the regional governor surveyed the flood zone from a helicopter and bumped over a country road in a minibus with the head of the Krymsk district, discussing the disaster response in the town worst hit by the flooding.
"I have asked the leadership of the (federal) Investigative Committee to come down. The Investigative Committee will check the actions of all the authorities - how notice was given, how it could have been given, how it should have been given and who acted in what way," Putin told a meeting in Krymsk.
"I ask you to cooperate," he said.