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 magnitude 7.5 quake was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of the beach resort of Acapulco
Boko Haram has not commented on Monday's mass abduction, but many fear the kidnapped teenagers could wind up as sex slaves.
Homs has since evolved into a symbol of the destructive nature of Syria's civil war, with many of its neighbourhoods levelled by army bombardment
4,000 residents and their 30,000 animals have been transferred 20 kilometers away from the area.
Israeli police said that the move has been taken upon an intelligence tipoff about Palestinian plans to stage demonstrations following the prayers.
Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia gave no details and Kiev has threatened to use force before to little effect.
President Moncef Marzouki declared Mount Chaambi a closed military zone two days ago, suggesting the possibility of a major offensive against militant refugees there.
Thursday's attack on the U.N. base at Bor, some 120 miles north of the capital of Juba, was blamed on locals who were seeking to punish the Nuer for the loss of Bentiu.
A boat in Indonesian Good Friday procession sank in the Gonzalu Strait in the country's east; Dozens of other boats were forced to turn around and pluck victims out of water.
Presidential hopefuls need to collect written endorsements from 25,000 eligible voters to be able to run for president, according to the newly-approved constitution.
73 men, 32 women and 11 children were murdered by Croatian Defense Council (CDC) forces on that tragic day of April 16, 1993.
Under the terms of a political settlement signed in 2000, the reconciliation body is supposed to establish the truth about the conflicts afflicting Burundi since independence.
Salva Kiir, who arrived in Addis Ababa on a one-day visit on Thursday, reiterated that his government supports the construction of the Ethiopian dam.
Ten rebels and two civilians were killed in the clashes in the Diyala province.
Pro-Russian separatists occupying public buildings in eastern Ukraine reacted to an international accord to defuse the crisis by saying they would not agree to leave the sites before other major conditions were met.
None of the major parties, including Prabowo's Gerindra party, won enough votes in the April 9 parliamentary election in the world's third-largest democracy to be able to nominate a presidential candidate alone