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Flood Death Toll Rises to 44 in Southern Russia - 2002-08-10

The death toll from torrential flooding in southern Russia has risen to at least 44. Divers searched Saturday for bodies off the Black Sea coast, while rescue workers combed debris-strewn beaches of popular resort areas in the Novorossisk region.

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin said the situation is grave and is urging emergency agencies to step up relief efforts for the flood victims, including thousands of people evacuated from summer camps and villages in the region.

The Itar-Tass news agency quoted Mr. Putin as saying disasters do not go away from southern Russia. More than one hundred people died when flooding struck the region in June.

Severe weather continues to lash much of Europe Saturday, including the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Italy and Britain. Six people were reported killed during Friday's storms in Central and Eastern Europe.