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'Wave of water': Torrential rains kill dozens in Russia

Over 125 people were killed as raging flood waters swept through southern Russia. NBC's Annabel Roberts reports.

Updated at 11:30 p.m. ET: At least 140 people were killed and thousands of homes were flooded by torrential rain, landslides and a "wave of water" that rushed through one town in the Krasnodar region of southern Russia overnight.

Some of the victims were electrocuted while others were swept into the sea. Many of the dead were elderly people who had been sleeping and drowned.

The English-language Russian news channel RT reported that at least 1,000 people were displaced.

In the town of Krymsk, residents reported being hit by a 20-foot wave that they suspect came downhill from a nearby reservoir.

"It all happened during the night," Anna Kovalyovskaya, whose parents were in the flood zone, told the Russian News Service. "People just ran from their homes, because there was a huge wave of water, nobody warned them. Two-story houses were flooded up to the second floor. The water came on very fast. It wasn’t rain."

State news agency RIA reported more than 140 people had died, citing Interior Ministry data.

Most of those were in Krymsk after an average two months' rain fell in just a few hours in the popular holiday region on the Black Sea where Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Television footage showed flooded streets and people scrambling onto rooftops.

Aleksandr Tkachyov

The flooded town of Krymsky is seen Saturday in a photo tweeted by regional Gov. Aleksandr Tkachyov .

"There are lots of overturned cars, even huge trucks. Brick fences are washed away," a local resident, Vladimir Anosov, said by telephone from the village of Novoukrainsky.

"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.

The BBC reported that, according to residents, the flooding came with no warning in the middle of the night.

Deadly flooding has claimed the lives of dozens of people in southern Russia.


Police spokesman Igor Zhelyabin said 11 people had been killed in Novorossiisk and the coastal town of Gelendzhik.

"Police are beefing up their presence to prevent mass looting," 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." 

A state of emergency was declared in Krymsk, Novorossiisk and Gelendzhik, where 5,000 homes were said to be flooded, RT said. The station reported that part of the Northern-Caucasus railroad had been washed out.

No such floods 'in our history'
Aleksandr Tkachyov, the governor of the Krasnodar region, urged local residents 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 saying.

"The water came with such force that it tore up the asphalt” in one area, he said via Twitter, according to RT.

Kovalyovskaya told the BBC that her relatives in Krymsk were caught by surprise.

Russia's Interior Ministry via AFP - Getty Images

This street in Gelendzhik was swamped on Saturday

"People were running out into the streets in their underwear and wrapping their children in blankets," she said. "People were only able to save their passports."

"There is no electricity and the shops are shut," she added. "Many people have lost everything and are in a state of panic."

More rain was in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

"The region's transportation is in a state of collapse," a transportation spokesman said, and Russian Railways' website said all trains heading to and from Novorossiisk had been suspended.

"The water has risen half a meter above the rails," it said.

Msnbc.com staff and Reuters contributed to this report.

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