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Floods devastate Russia's far east

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) -- Rivers swollen by a typhoon off Russia's Pacific coast cascaded through hundreds of villages, sending residents scrambling onto roofs and cutting power and telephone lines, reports from the area said on Friday.

Officials in Russia's far eastern Maritime region said at least 2,000 homes had been inundated and hundreds of families evacuated.

Hundreds of kilometers (miles) of roads were washed out, dozens of bridges damaged and power stations put out of action.

More than 2,000 paratroops and other servicemen had been drafted in to distribute food or oversee orderly departures.

Russian television showed water surging past the first floor (U.S. second) floor of wooden houses, with entire families shifting possessions onto roofs. Rowboats, some equipped with small motors, navigated through village streets.

"We spent the first night on the roof," one woman carrying a small child told NTV television. "No one would stop to take us to safety. One man came by in a small boat but wouldn't help."

Television reports said sunny weather had replaced several days of storms in which the equivalent of three months of rain had fallen. But they said a new typhoon could hit the region.

Damage in the area was estimated at up to 200 million roubles ($7 million).

Rising waters were threatening the main highway linking the Pacific port of Vladivostok and the region's largest city of Khabarovsk, on the Chinese border. Pictures earlier this week showed cars making their way through the streets of Vladivostok with water nearly up to their windows.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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