World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia began a day of mourning on Monday for the 171 people killed in floods that drove thousands from their homes, with the causes of the disaster posing hard questions for the authorities, including President Vladimir Putin.
Most of the victims were in the southern Russian town of Krymsk near the Black Sea, many of them caught unawares and without any unofficial warning when the floods and landslides began on Friday night.
Postmen in the badly damaged town of 57,000 people went from house to house on Monday, handing out sums of 10,000 roubles ($300), with the promise of more compensation to come. Many people were salvaging what they could from their sodden homes.
"Nothing is left. We are like tramps," said Ovsen Torosyan, 30. "I bought all the furniture and electrical goods on credit and still have to finish paying for them but they have all gone."
The floods followed more than a month of heavy rainfall in the relatively wealthy southern "breadbasket" region of Krasnodar, where agriculture and tourism thrive.
Officials, who raised the death toll to 171 late on Sunday, were expecting more rains in the Krasnodar region on Monday although it was sunny in Rymsky.
Torrential rain, equivalent to a third of the annual average rainfall in some places, temporarily paralysed transport and briefly halted exports from the port of Novorossiisk, Russia's biggest commercial port.
The port was returning to normal operations, and the railway was operating normally again for passenger traffic, but the scale of the destruction in Krymsk was shocking.
Putin tries to stem criticism
Residents said the floods upended trees and drowned livestock, lifting the carcasses and carrying them on the waters rushing through city streets. Officials said they were collecting animal corpses and destroying them to prevent disease from spreading in the aftermath of the floods.
Pensioners struggling to save what they could from the wreckage of their homes posed the same question: How could a rainstorm, even such an intense one, wreak so much destruction in a single night?
Putin, who faced criticism early in his first term as president for reacting slowly to deadly disasters, promptly flew to Krymsk on Saturday and grilled local authorities on residents' lack of warning of the impending disaster.
He demanded detailed information on the potential for a sudden release of water from a nearby reservoir, seen by Krymsk residents as the most likely cause of a wall of water which came crashing down on their homes in the early hours of Saturday. Putin appeared satisfied with local officials' rejection of that notion.
Investigators were told to check the failure of early-warning procedures but said a release of water from the Neberdzhayevskoye reservoir could not have caused the flood.
Social media contained criticism of the state media coverage which focused as much on his visit to Krymsk as on the human suffering caused by the floods.
"The news on Channel One: The floods happened, Putin arrives in Krymsk, Putin flies in a helicopter, Putin arrives somewhere else, Putin has a meeting. Putin...," said a tweet by a Russian identified only as Dalia Roshina.
It was the first major disaster in Russia since Putin 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, 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. ($1 = 32.8387 Russian roubles)
The move envisions forming a unity government within five weeks and holding national elections six months.
Candido Van-Dunem, who had held the post since 2010, will be replaced by Joao Lourenco, a former secretary-general of the MPLA ruling party
About 22,000 people took refuge in the U.N. base in Bentiu, the capital of the oil producing Unity State, after the killings
Pollsters say UKIP has siphoned off much of its support from disgruntled right-wing Conservative voters. But they say it is also stealing traditional Labour supporters
State media said Maher Abdel-Hafiz Hajjar - a member of the government-sanctioned opposition and formerly a member of the Communist Party- had nominated himself
A man and two children were injured when an Israeli aircraft fired on them in the city of Beit Lahia.
Moscow is "extremely surprised by the distorted interpretation (of the agreement) by the Kiev authorities and the American partners," the foreign ministry said.
A remote Sunni village of roughly 2,000 people, Tfail is surrounded on three sides by Syria, and the primary route to the rest of Lebanon goes through its neighbour.
Russia conducted military exercises in its south-eastern Rostov region, which borders Ukraine
Northern England is overall less wealthy than the country's south, which hosts England's capital and economic powerhouse London.
Rights groups accuse Azerbaijan of muzzling dissent and jailing opponents, charges the government denies.
Katanga's interior minister gave a provisional toll of 56 dead and 69 injured but said the toll was expected to rise
China's modernising navy has taken an increasingly assertive stance in guarding what it sees as its sovereign maritime territory in the East China and South China Seas.
Christian Arabs, who are actually Palestinians, are among the 1.6 million Arabs who refused to leave their homes despite the Israeli occupation.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye appealed to his Chinese counterpart as the North looks set to defy UN obligations.