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Kazakstan Ponders Flood Action Plans

This year’s UNUSUALLY SEVERE flooding has led to calls for longer-term solutions. Every year, the banks of the Syrdarya, one of Central Asia’s two great rivers, overflow in Kazakstan, causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage. But this year, the flooding has been much more serious than usual, lending a new urgency to discussions about how to cope with the irregular flow of a river that traverses several countries in the region. As of February 25, more than 48 towns and villages had been flooded in the South Kazakstan region. Several thousand homes and eight schools were affected and five bridges were swept away. Fortunately, there has been only one death so far, though livestock losses run into the hundreds. The sheer length of the river means the potential flood zone in Kazakstan is hard to estimate. The Syrdarya flows 180 kilometres through the South Kazakstan region before crossing into the Kzyl-Orda region further north on its way to the Aral Sea. Older people say the situation this year reminds them of far worse flash floods back in 1969, when many were killed. This year, the floods could affect about 70,000 hectares, with a population of 15,000 people. The severity of the floods has been blamed on this winter’s UNSUALLY COLD AND SNOWY weather. A large amount of ice has built up in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. As it thaws, more melt water than usual surges into the headwaters and downstream into Uzbekistan and Kazakstan.
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