Rostov-on-Don, Russia The death toll from flooding in southern Russia climbed to 93 Saturday, emergency officials said, and President Vladimir Putin took local authorities to task for not doing more to help victims.
The floods have forced thousands to flee their homes and caused more than $385 million in damage. Friday, the Russian president toured the flood-ravaged region.
"We have visited the camp set up by the emergency situations workers, the best one, I was told," Putin said on RTR television Saturday.
"If this was the best one, I wonder how people live in other camps," Putin said. "Bad, everything is very bad, I haven't seen anything good at all."
Charges of negligence were being considered against officials in the Karachayevo-Cherkessia region, the Kochubeevsky district, the city of Nevinomyssk and in the Uspensky district in the Stavropol region, Deputy Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky told ORT television on Saturday. Officials had begun a probe.
Fridinsky said some local officials had failed to inform people of the impending flood or take urgent measures. He also said the warning system in a number of districts did not work "and in some places it had been simply destroyed."
The newspaper Izvestia reported Saturday that two local officials in Stavropol had already been charged, and it wasn't immediately possible to clarify whether the two were part of the group Fridinsky was referring to, and whether charges had been lodged or merely considered.
Putin said he saw victims sitting in the camps naked and barefoot, sleeping in tents erected in mud. "We must do everything for them to have food and drinking water and a little money."
Putin said poor preparation by local authorities had significantly increased the region's misery.
"If things had been put in place earlier, maybe the damage would have been minimized and the victims would have been fewer. The system of notification practically didn't exist," the president said.