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Parts of Russian Far East Under Water - 2002-07-22

Parts of the Russian Far East are under water after days of heavy rain. Russian officials believe the opening of dams in neighboring China may be contributing to the flooding.

Heavy rains over the weekend have caused severe flooding in parts of the Primorsky region in Far Eastern Russia.

Hundreds of homes are under water and scores of families were forced to evacuate as a result of the rising water.

Russian television showed pictures of local residents walking through muddy water up to their waists. Large, construction trucks were shown driving through the flooded streets with water covering the tires.

In some areas, the swelled rivers washed away chunks of earth from the riverbanks.

Russian officials say unusually heavy rains were to blame for the flooding. But they say neighboring China is also to blame because Chinese officials have opened some of their reservoirs, causing more water to run into the Russian region. So far, Chinese officials have not commented on the allegations.

The Primorsky region in the Russian Far East borders China to the south and some of the rivers and tributaries running into Primorsky originate in China.

The problems in the Russian Far East come as the country is still recovering from heavy flooding in June in southern Russia.

Those floods killed almost 100 people and forced more than 100,000 to evacuate their homes.

After the flooding in the southern part of the country, President Vladimir Putin severely criticized authorities for failing to warn the public ahead of time. The Russian leader said many lives were lost as a result.

In Primorsky on Monday, the sun was shining in many parts of the region, but Russian officials said they feared more rain may fall soon.