Moscow - The governor of Russia's Krasnodar region, where 171 people died in floods at the weekend, on Monday fired a top local official in the worst-hit Krymsk area for the slack response to the crisis.
Governor Alexander Tkachev said the head of Krymsk district Vasily Krutko had to step down for failing to effectively communicate flood warnings to locals, his press service quoted him as saying.
Earlier it had also quoted Tkachev as saying Krymsk mayor Vladimir Ulanovsky also had to step down. However the press service later modified their statement to only mention Krutko's sacking, calling it a “technical mistake” and giving no further explanation for the reversal.
“It has been proven that the (Krymsk) district officials received a flood warning at least three hours before it began,” Tkachev said in his first statement at a meeting broadcast on national television.
“In these circumstances, I believe the (Krymsk) district head and mayor should be removed from their posts,” Tkachev added.
The town of Krymsk and its outlying areas saw at least 159 people perish in a devastating flood in the early hours of Saturday, and many were apparently caught by surprise in their sleep.
Krutko late Saturday admitted that he received a message about the impending disaster at 10:00 pm (1800 GMT) Friday, but argued that he did his best to inform the residents.
Tkachev however said residents told him otherwise, also chastising the local officials for their ineptitude after the flood hit and left many people waiting on their roofs for many hours with no help.
“The organisation of this work, its quality, are not at all satisfactory!” said the governor, who himself has faced a share of criticism after the catastrophe.
“Why do people even need local authorities, who have shown their inability to work in a critical situation?” Tkachev said, saying the region had to “accept all responsibility” for handling the crisis.
Tkachev, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, is one of Russia's longest serving regional leaders, who has since 2000 overseen the affluent Black Sea Krasnodar region where the country will also host the Winter Olympic Games in 2014. - Sapa-AFP