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Flash Floods Kill 18 in Russia - 2002-08-09

As many as 18 people are dead and six more are feared drowned after flash floods hit Russia's Black Sea region.

Most of the victims were camping near the city of Novorossiisk on the Black Sea when flash floods destroyed their campsites and swept people out to sea.

Rescue workers from the Emergency Situations Ministry were able to pluck some people from the water. But tens of people are still missing and the number of dead is expected to rise as rescue officials continue their work.

The flooding was caused by some of the worst rain the region has seen in years. The muddy waters washed cars into the Black Sea and wiped out sections of the road and bridges. In some areas of Novorossiisk, the swiftly rising waters covered the ground floor of buildings and houses.

Russian television showed pictures of pieces of houses floating down the swollen rivers. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from their homes as rain continues to fall in the region.

The campsites and beach resorts near Novorossiisk on the Black Sea are very popular with tourists from around the former Soviet Union. A number of small rivers also feed into the Black Sea around Novorossiisk.

Russia is not the only area in Europe to be affected by heavy flooding in recent days. In Romania, an elderly man and a young boy drowned when floodwaters washed through their village.

In Austria, floodwaters broke through several dams and people in low-lying areas were forced to evacuate. In the southern Czech republic, at least 2,000 people fled their homes as a result of rising waters.

This is the second time in as many months that southern Russia has been hit by heavy flooding. In June, more than 100 people were killed and hundreds of thousands were evacuated from their homes amid torrential rains.