Floods force out 20,000 Russians
The worst flooding in 120 years in Russia's Far East has forced about 20,000 people from their homes along with two captive brown bears which were airlifted to safety.
The floods hit three regions along the Chinese border in the Far East, 3,000 miles from Moscow, and some of those evacuated have moved into 166 emergency shelters.
The flooding, set off by torrential rains, has already affected 140 towns and villages across the broad area. The Amur region has been the worst affected, but the flooding there has passed its peak. But as the rains moved east the situation was expected to worsen in the neighbouring Kabarovsk and Jewish autonomous regions.
The Amur River, which has reached a record high, is still rising and could flood Komsomolsk-on Amur, a major city in the Khabarovsk region.
Rescuers decided to move the brown bears to higher ground from their home in a tourist camp near the city of Blagoveshchensk as the flood waters approached, the ministry said. They were taken in a cage slung under a helicopter.
The floods have threatened mayoral elections in the Amur region due on Sepember. 8, when local elections will be held across Russia.