Kazakhstan Struggles to Contain Floods; Worst Natural Disaster in 80 Years, President Says

Kazakhstan flooding: Image, TCA, Aleksandr Potolitsyn

Since last month, more than 75,000 people in Kazakhstan have been rescued from floods that the president has described as the country’s worst natural disaster in 80 years. Kyrgyzstan is sending aid to Kazakhstan, and Türkiye has said it is ready to help.

Across the border from Kazakhstan, parts of Russia have also been hit by flooding caused by the melting of snow as spring approaches. A dam was breached in the Russian city of Orsk, forcing the evacuation of thousands.

In Kazakhstan, some 18,000 children are among those rescued, and more than 69,000 farm animals have also been taken to safety, according to Kaharman Orazalin, a senior official in the Ministry of Emergency Situations.

Several thousand private residential buildings, country houses and other buildings have been flooded, Orazalin said at a briefing on Sunday. He said that workers are trying to restore four destroyed bridges and 133 washed out sections of roads. Tents, bedding and water pumping equipment have been delivered. Sand bag barriers have been laid to block the floodwaters.

“The Ministry of Emergency Situations calls on citizens to be extremely careful, strictly observe safety measures during the flood period, and not leave their homes and evacuation centers without the appropriate permission,” he said.

“This is the largest natural disaster in the last 80 years,” President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said on national television on Saturday.

A state of emergency has been declared in ten regions of the country – Abay, Akmola, Aktobe, Atyrau, West Kazakhstan, Karaganda, Kostanay, Pavlodar, North Kazakhstan and Ulytau regions, according to Tokayev.

Military forces are helping to alleviate the flooding; national and regional authorities are working around the clock and tens of thousands of volunteers are also helping, the president said.

“We must draw appropriate conclusions from the catastrophic flood. That is, we need to correct the gaps and learn the appropriate lessons. And there are many such lessons,” Tokayev said. “Many issues need to be addressed, from the lack of disaster prevention work, the shortage of water management specialists, to the neglect of nature. The government and local executive bodies should effectively coordinate flood control. It is necessary to ensure legal order in flooded areas.”

Orazalin, the official from the emergency situations ministry, said humanitarian aid from Kyrgyzstan was on the way.

Türkiye is “deeply saddened” by the flooding in Kazakhstan and is “ready to provide any assistance needed to heal the wounds caused by the disaster,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated.

Efforts to rescue individuals continue in the Kostanay region, where a state of emergency has been announced in six areas due to the rising waters of the Tobyl River, as reported by Asylbek Saduov, the deputy chief of the Kostanay Oblast Railway Station.


Times of Central Asia