Putin declares federal emergency in Irkutsk flooding
Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared mass floods in the Irkutsk region to be a federal emergency. Putin ordered his government to deploy troops to the region and allocate money from the federal budget to repair flooded homes.
The current flood is the most severe ever recorded in the Irkutsk region. It has claimed 20 lives so far, and eight more residents of the region are missing. Almost 2,000 people have requested medical care. 96 settlements have been affected and 32,000 people displaced. A state of emergency has been in effect in the region since June 27.
On July 1, meteorologists and physicists at Irkutsk State University published a notice on the university’s website analyzing the causes of the flooding. The scientists indicated that “the cause of the catastrophic floods was an anomaly in the development of atmospheric processes that appeared in the context of observed global and regional climate change.” The anomaly in question caused an unusual confluence of air at various temperatures, which resulted in exceptionally high rainfall. The scientists warned that Irkutsk region residents can expect similar atmospheric anomalies at increasing rates both in the remainder of the summer and in the long term.
Experts have connected the root causes of concurrent extreme weather events such as similar flooding in the Midwestern United States and a record-breaking heat wave in Europe to the ongoing climate crisis. Russia’s own Environmental Ministry warned last year that disastrous environmental events are already taking lives in Russia at an escalating rate. Nonetheless, Russia currently occupies fourth place in global rankings of greenhouse gas emissions, and its government has left that position unchanged while repressing climate activism.