World Bulletin/News Desk
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered investigators to find out whether local officials could have done more to prevent floods killing 150 people in southern Russia after flying to the region to handle the first big disaster of his new presidency.
Putin, who was criticised for his slow reaction to disasters earlier in his career, has promised money for new homes for victims of the worst flooding in decades in Krasnodar, a prosperous region with thriving agriculture and tourism.
He declared Monday a day of mourning for the dead, most of whom drowned. Many were elderly people caught unawares as they slept when water swept through their homes after two months' average rainfall fell in a night.
"I have asked the leadership of the (federal) Investigative Committee to come down," Putin said late on Saturday during a meeting with officials in Krymsk, the worst-hit town.
"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."
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.
Almost 30,000 homes were also without electricity and gas in a region that is Russia's traditional "bread basket", emergency officials said.
In Krymsk, where 139 people died, residents were without drinking water and the Health Ministry, concerned about potential infection from a local cemetery eroded by floodwaters, began vaccinating residents. Rains continued there on Sunday.
But the sun was shining and the waters had receded from the resort town of Gelendzhik, on the Black Sea coast, where nine people were killed. The town had appeared badly flooded in aerial photographs taken on Saturday.
Emergencies Ministry aircraft were taking off from Gelendzhik airport, the nearest regional airport to Krymsk.
Most passenger rail traffic resumed on Sunday and Russia's biggest port, Novorossiisk, a major outlet for crude oil from the world's largest producer, resumed normal operations, an official at the port operator said.
Novorossiisk is also a major outlet for wheat from Russia, the world's second largest exporter this past year. The official said Novorossiisk Grain Terminal was ready to resume exports, though none were scheduled for Sunday.
Putin flies into action
The consequences of the flash flood could be more lasting for Putin, though he moved swiftly to show he was on top of the rescue effort.
On Saturday, 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.
A criminal investigation was opened into whether the deaths were caused by negligence, Russian media reported.
It was the first major disaster in Russia since he returned to the Kremlin for a third term as president after a four-year interlude as prime minister.
The former KGB spy, now 59, has increasingly struggled to project his customary image of mastery since the outbreak of protests against his rule last December.
In his 12 years in power, both as president and prime minister, Russia has been plagued by natural and man-made disasters that have laid bare a longstanding shortfall in investment and management of Russia's transport and infrastructure.
These include deadly forest fires in 2010 and the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000 which killed 118 sailors and officers. Putin was accused of responding slowly to the Kursk disaster because attempts by foreign rescue teams to save the sailors were initially not allowed.
Putin on Saturday ordered the Emergencies Ministry to check a reservoir near Krymsk.
The state water resource agency has rejected suggestions by residents that a release of water from a nearby reservoir was responsible for the severe flooding in Krymsk.
Data show estimated net migration numbers reached a record 336,000 as of June 2015
Buhari, who came to power in May, has made crushing the six-year rebellion a priority and in August gave his military commanders until the year-end to defeat the extremists
'The god whom we seek to serve is a god of peace. His holy name must never be used to justify hatred and violence,' Pope Francis says
Sacking of French Muslim social worker for wearing religious garb did not violate freedom-of-religion law, says court
The toll is 18 dead, 11 hurt, almost 100 homes burned down in the village of Wogom
'We still have not heard any articulate apologies from Turkey's highest political level nor any proposals to compensate for the harm and damage,' says Russian president
Francois Hollande and Matteo Renzi also discuss fight against ISIL and the situation in Libya
At least 277 people have been killed in Burundi since the outbreak of the political and security crisis in April 2015, the UN has said in a statement
Cameron said that it was in Britain's national security interests to strike ISIL extremists and deny them a 'safe haven' in Syria
South Africa has agreed to enforce a Turkish court’s warrants for four ex-Israeli military commanders involved in the 2010 deadly Mavi Marmara attack, police say
Economic penalties also target businessman representing Assad regime 'business and financial interests in Russia,' says Treasury Dept.
Russia is continuing its retaliation to the downing of the Russian jet with reports claiming that Russian customs turning back Turkish travellers
The Western Balkans is at the heart of battle against terrorism, radicalization, says European Council president
'What's most important for Canada is that we continue to be a strong player within the coalition against ISIL, also in terms of military engagement,' PM Trudeau says
The United Arab Emirates has secretly dispatched hundreds of Colombian mercenaries to Yemen to fight in that country’s raging conflict, adding a volatile new element in a complex proxy war that has drawn in the United States and Iran.
President Mustafa Akinci says more progress made in last five months than previous 47 years