Ural river floods worst in the Kazakh-Russia border region ‘for 80 years’

Ural river floods worst in the Kazakh-Russia border region ‘for 80 years’
12 April 2024

By the Climate Centre

Official statements and media reports this week have highlighted the seriousness of the floods along the Ural river, which flows through Russia and Kazakhstan and is Europe’s third longest after the Volga and the Danube.

The BBC quoted Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as saying the floods there “may be the country’s worst natural disaster for 80 years”.

The Russian government “warned that water levels in some areas are rising faster than at any time in the last 100 years”.

John Entwistle, IFRC Head of Delegation for the Russian Federation and Belarus, said Wednesday on X/Twitter that the worst flood in decades has affected people in Russia’s Orenburg oblast [region], with more than 10,000 homes damaged.

“Many people have been evacuated with just a few personal items [and] the Russian Red Cross has mobilized to provide them with essentials and psychosocial support,” he added.

Snow melt

The IFRC’s Disaster Response Emergency Fund yesterday announced a grant to the Kazakhstan Red Crescent of 500,000 Swiss francs to enable the National Society to address the immediate needs of 5,000 people in the most affected areas across six regions through cash grants.

The IFRC-DREF text says a combination of melting snow caused by rapidly rising temperatures and heavy rainfall prompted local authorities to declare a state of emergency in ten Kazakh regions.

The floodwater has peaked in several regions, it adds, but others both further east and west expected peaks soon and a second wave of flooding was anticipated in western Kazakhstan.

Nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated in Kazakhstan and 8,400 are in temporary accommodation such as schools; nearly 60 settlements there are cut off and without communication. Some 12,000 others people have been moved to safety in southern Russia.

Relief supplies for people affected by floods along the Ural are unloaded by the Kazakh Red Crescent. (Photo: Kazakh Red Crescent via IFRC)