Extensive Flooding and Evacuations After Dam Bursts in Orsk, Russia

According to the facility’s press department, operations at Russia’s Orsk oil refinery were halted Sunday after Friday night’s dam breach and subsequent flooding in the Orenburg area.

The refinery, which has a yearly capacity of six million tons of oil, is situated around 1800km (1100 miles) east of Moscow, near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan.

According to the state news agency RIA, the decision to halt operations was made to mitigate ecological hazards caused by the recent floods in the Orenburg area and neighboring regions of Russia and Kazakhstan.

After rising water levels broke a dam and caused severe flooding in the city of Orsk over the weekend, authorities in southwest Russia are still working hard on Monday to evacuate residents.

Social media posts and videos show water levels above half the height of house doors and animals being rescued by local officials on boats as they sail through Orsk’s significant streets.

The Russian Ministry for Emergencies said that over 10,000 homes were inundated across many areas, with approximately 4,000 homes in the Orenburg region alone. Officials from the federal government report that over 1,200 individuals are still in temporary housing after more than 6,000 were evacuated from Orenburg.

The mayor of Orsk, Vasily Kozupitsa, said on Monday that 12,000 people have been evacuated from their homes and that 16 makeshift shelters are prepared to receive them.

In a message on Telegram’s messaging app, Kozupitsa said twenty-five educational institutions, including kindergartens, schools, and hospitals, were inside the flood zone. According to the state news agency Tass, schools have been canceled, and students will learn remotely.

Reports surfaced on Sunday from Russian media source RBC stating that hospitals in Orsk have temporarily suspended ordinary medical services and are transferring patients to Novotroitsk and Orenburg, two surrounding towns and cities, respectively.

The federal government has declared a state of emergency because of the potential for flooding far beyond the Orenburg area.