Russians angry as massive flood leaves town in ruins

People in a flood-ravaged southern Russian town on Saturday charged that authorities offered no help as masses of water tore through their homes overnight.

"Nobody came to our street to help. We need help," pensioner Lidiya Polinina told AFP by phone from Krymsk, the worst-hit town, recounting how she managed to survive the flood that has claimed over 100 lives.

TV footage showed brown water rushing down the town's streets, where bodies lay on the curbs, covered with dirty blankets. Trees were torn out, homes destroyed and giant slabs of asphalt thrown on top of cars.

"Our house was flooded to the ceiling," said Polinina.

"We could not open the door because of the water, so we broke the window to climb out," she said, seething with anger at what she said was the lack of help from the authorities.

"I put my five-year-old grandson on the roof of our submerged car, and then we somehow climbed up into the attic. I don't know how we managed to survive."

The floods left her house full of silt and debris, but did not knock it down, so she was turned away from the local emergency shelter with only two loaves of bread and a bottle of water, she said.

There had been no emergency warning about the flood, she said.

Flash floods frequently batter towns along the Black Sea coast during seasonal rains in the Caucasus mountains, but officials say the current disaster is unprecedented.

The floods and a landslide in Russia's southern Krasnodar region over the past two days have killed at least 103 people and affected nearly 13,000.

Krymsk has been worst hit, with officials recovering at least 92 bodies there. Authorities have been unable to explain the massive toll, saying the floods were caused by torrential rains.

The town of 57,000 lies about 200 kilometres northwest of the Black Sea resort town of Sochi where Russia will host the 2014 Summer Olympic Games.

Police have beefed up patrols to guard against looting. Electricity and cell phone networks have not been restored, officials said.

"Patrols are everywhere," Krymsk resident Alexander Natarov said by phone.

Natarov said he had to seek shelter on the second floor of his apartment building and spent the night in a stairwell.

"The market has been completely wiped out," he added.

A rumour has swept through town that the overnight flood might have been caused by an opening of floodgates at a local dam.

"The water rose very quickly, it flooded people's ground floors in five to 10 minutes," said Krymsk resident Tatyana, who declined to give her surname. "That cannot be just rain."

Krasnodar governor Alexander Tkachev called the reports "nonsense" and said on Twitter: "Enough! Stop spreading stupid rumors. The region has received five months' worth of rain."

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