* Floods, storms, landslides hit Krasnodar region
* Novorossiisk port halts oil, grain shipments
* Victims include many elderly, most drowned
By Vladimir Soldatkin
MOSCOW, July 7 Floods and landslides killed at
least 103 people in southern Russia after two months' average
rainfall fell in a few hours, forcing some to climb on to roofs
and into trees to save themselves, police said on Saturday.
Many victims were elderly people who were asleep in the town
of Krymsk when the storm broke in the agricultural region of
They drowned as the torrential rain turned hilly streets
into driving torrents and water rose above head-height in what
one official called the worst flooding for 70 years.
Five people were electrocuted when an electric transformer
fell into the water in the coastal resort of Gelendzhik and some
victims were swept out to sea.
The flooding damaged thousands of homes, blocked railways
and roads, and halted oil and grain shipments from the Black Sea
port of Novorossiisk.
"There are lots of overturned cars, even huge trucks. Brick
walls have been washed away," said Vladimir Anosov, a resident
of the village of Novoukrainsky near Krymsk, a town surrounded
by mountains about 300 km (190 miles) northwest of Sochi where
Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
"People are on the street, they are at a loss what to do.
Helicopters are flying overhead, they are evacuating people from
the flooded areas. The floods are really, really huge," he said
Russian news agencies said President Vladimir Putin was
expected to visit the region to inspect the damage and meet
residents, some of whom criticised the rescue operations.
It was not immediately clear what the impact might be on the
grain harvest, an important part of the regional and national
"We found several streets with corpses covered in canvas.
People there are in shock. They keep on mumbling that they had
not been warned ... There are lots of Emergencies Ministry
staff, but they are struggling to cope with the disaster," a
reporter on Krasnodar's 9 TV channel said.
Novorossiisk, Russia's largest Black Sea port, halted crude
oil shipments, a spokesman for oil pipeline operator Transneft
said. The port also suspended grain exports.
Police put the death toll in the Krymsk area alone at 92 and
said two had been killed in Novorossiisk and nine in Gelendzhik.
"Police are beefing up their presence to prevent mass
looting," police spokesman Igor Zhelyabin said.
"The floods hit at night when people were asleep. You can't
do anything about that. Many people in Gelendzhik were hit by
electric shocks and some of them were washed away into the sea."
The Krasnodar region, with its coastline and high, wooded
mountains, is a popular holiday destination for Russians,
particularly Gelendzhik. The holiday season has just began, but
it was not clear whether any tourists had been killed.
The State Hydrometeorology Agency said more rain was
possible on Saturday and Sunday and Alexander Tkachov, the
governor of the Krasnodar region, urged people not to panic.
"No one can remember such floods in our history. There was
nothing of the kind for the last 70 years. More than 5,000
households were hit," Itar-Tass news agency quoted him as
Transneft spokesman Igor Dyomin said regional transport was
in a state of collapse, and all trains heading to and from
Novorossiisk were suspended.
"The water has risen half a metre above the rails," Russian
Railways said on its website.
The Novorossiisk port, which handles grains and metals as
well as crude oil, said the outlet had cut shipping volumes.
"We are not loading grain due to the rainy weather," port
spokesman Mikhail Sidorov said.
"Of course, we have limited shipments. The port is located
in the lower part of town, the whole landslide has moved towards
it. As we speak, the rain has started again."
Last month Transneft forecast crude exports from
Novorossiisk would fall to 3.38 million tonnes in July from 3.61
million tonnes in June.