Thousands homeless as severe flood hits Kazakhstan

Tue Feb 26, 2008 4:02am EST

ALMATY Feb 26 (Reuters) - More than 12,000 people have fled their homes in Kazakhstan after rain-swollen rivers swept away houses and bridges, the emergencies ministry said on Tuesday.

Spring flooding is a recurring problem across Central Asia but a sudden rise in temperatures on Feb. 20 following weeks of severe cold has exacerbated the problem this year.

One person was killed in the floods and 12,700 others had to be evacuated from Kazakhstan's most populous region bordering Uzbekistan, the ministry said.

Melt water destroyed roads and schools and killed hundreds of cattle as rivers burst their banks.

The emergencies ministry said its rescue teams, equipped with boats and diving gear, were working to contain floods and assess the situation.

People were being evacuated to safe areas but it was unclear when they would be able to return home. A total of 2,000 houses have been destroyed. (Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)



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