March 13, 2010 / 12:38 PM / 10 years ago

Death toll in Kazakhtsan flood rises to 35

ALMATY (Reuters) - The death toll from a flood that destroyed a village in southern Kazakhstan has risen to 35, the country’s president said on Saturday.

Thousands of people were evacuated a day earlier after severe floods, caused by an abrupt rise in spring temperatures, ruined two dams and the village of Kyzyl-Agash north of the financial capital Almaty.

Addressing a government meeting, President Nursultan Nazarbayev urged officials to investigate the incident and supervise rescue efforts.

“Not warning people in advance about these dangers and not taking action to evacuate them is a crime,” he was quoted as saying by the official Kazinform news agency.

Prime Minister Karim Masimov visited late on Friday in southern Kazakhstan where a privately owned reservoir ruptured and flooded Kyzyl-Agash, destroying hundreds of houses.

Spring flooding is a frequent occurrence in Central Asia but a sudden rise in temperatures following weeks of heavy snow storms has exacerbated the problem this year.

The government’s swift response to the incident contrasts with some cases in the past when authorities’ reaction has been slow.

Nazarbayev, in power for 20 years, is keen to show his commitment at a time when people’s frustration is on the rise because of low wages, rising prices and a growing rich-poor divide in the oil-rich Caspian nation of 16 million.

Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Charles Dick

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