More than 140 people have been killed in a devastating flood in Russia's southern Krasnodar region. It's the worst of its kind in nearly a century, and the death toll continues to rise.
Five people were electrocuted as an electricity transformer fell into the water, while many more drowned. Russia's Interior Ministry has confirmed a total 141 deaths, but that number is likely to rise.
In the district alone, at least 130 bodies have been found, the Interior Ministry reports. Two more have died in Novorossiysk, and nine more in the Gelendzhik district. A 10-year-old child was among the victims.
Up to 13,000 people have been affected by the disaster. A state of emergency has been declared in the cities of Krymsk, Novorossiysk, and Gelendzhik. The affected area is large and the damage widespread. Part of the Northern-Caucasus railroad has also been washed out.
Entire city streets have been completely submerged after torrential rain storms Friday, with the Krymsky district taking the worst of the floods, according to Governor of the Krasnodar region Aleksandr Tkachyov: "Gelendzhik is in better condition, there's almost no water left there."
The speed of the flood was also shocking, carrying away not only homes, but 16-ton trucks as well. One driver said his truck was literally carried tens of meters by the waters.
In a separate incident, a nine-year-old girl was ripped from her mother and sister's arms by the force of the current.
Krasnodarsky Region authorities have declared July 9 a day of mourning.
Eyewitnesses also claim a 7-meter wave struck Krymsk in the middle of the night. The wave came down from the mountains, they say. The reasons are unknown, but one of the possible explanations, widely circulating in social networks, is that the water was discharged from reservoirs situated in the mountains. The other is that the wave was caused by excessive rain.
Anna Kovalyovskaya, whose parents are currently in the flood zone, says that local residents are expressing doubts that a reportedly 7-meter wave could have been caused by the rain storms alone.
"It all happened during the night. 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.
"I don't know if this is official information or not, but in the city they are saying that they opened the water reservoir in the mountains above the city. That's where the wave came from. In the city all of a sudden there was 7 meters of water. There was certainly a large storm beforehand, but the water came on so quick that in 15 minutes everything was flooded," Kovalyovskaya told the Russian News Service.
The Emergencies Ministry says no water drain from reservoirs has been registered. The wave may have been caused by rain waters going down the mountains or rivers breaking the banks, they added.
"The region's reservoirs are never full as there are waters shortages," says Vladisvlav Bolov, a chief officer at the ministry. "So the water draining theory is nonsense."
Local authorities deny draining the local water storage and insist it is too far away from the town of Krymsk to pose any danger to it. They also refute allegations no warning was sent to the locals.
"They just did not want to leave their homes," Anna Minkova, the Krasnodarsky Region's press secretary, told the Echo Moskvy radio station.
One third of Krymsk is still submerged, with the water only receding in certain areas, complicating rescue efforts. Rescuers have already retrieved over 6,000 survivors from rooftops and trees.
The flooding occurred in the aftermath of a giant storm that swept through the region. The region experienced almost half a year's worth of rainfall over the last two days.
The most heavily affected areas are along the Russian Black Sea coast, which bore the brunt of the torrential waters as they rushed out to sea.
An Emergencies Ministry plane took helicopters and rescue teams to Anapa in order to join the rescue and repair efforts already underway in the region. Over 1,000 rescue officers are working at the scene.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin as well as Emergency Minister Vladimir Puchkov and the Minister of Regional Development Oleg Govorun have visited the affected area.