Friday, 27 July 2012

False warnings, a mine blaze and a grim find

Finger-pointing continued in the wake of one of Russia’s deadliest natural disasters in recent history, as the country’s top investigator accused local officials of lying about warning residents of a f lash f lood that killed 171 people. Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin said officials in the southern town of Krymsk backdated a document that appeared to introduce a state of emergency ahead of the f lood. At a meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, Bastrykin said regional officials received warning reports about the f lash flood more than a day before the disaster but failed to raise alarm bells. Three Krymsk officials, including the mayor, were arrested over the weekend on negligence charges related to the disaster. Rescue workers in Siberia’s Kemerovo region defied the country’s poor track record in dealing with disasters by successfully evacuating all 263 workers from a coal mine that caught fire early on Thursday. Miners were not working in the section of the shaft where the fire broke out, making it easier to evacuate the mine, said a spokesman for the Siberian Coal and Energy Company, which owns the mine. An investigation has been launched to determine what caused the fire.

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