Thousands are evacuated after floods break a dam in the Russian city of Orsk

MOSCOW (AP) — Floods caused by rising water levels in the Ural River broke a dam in a city near Russia’s border with Kazakhstan, forcing some 2,000 people to evacuate, local authorities said.

The dam broke in the city of Orsk in the Orenburg region, less than 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) north of the border on Friday night, according to Orsk mayor Vasily Kozupitsa. By Saturday morning, more than 2,400 residential buildings in the city of 200,000 were flooded and electricity was cut off in several areas. Evacuation efforts are still ongoing.

Footage from Orsk showed water covering the streets dotted with one-story houses.

According to local authorities, the dam could withstand water levels up to 5.5 meters (nearly 18 feet). On Saturday morning, the water level reached about 9.3 meters (30.51 feet) and rising, Kozupitsa said.

Authorities also said floods affected other places in the region, located in the Ural Mountains area, causing the evacuation of nearly 4,000 people. It wasn’t clear whether the 2,000 already evacuated in Orsk were included in that number.

The Ural River, about 2,428 kilometers- (1,509 miles) long, flows from the southern section of the Urals into the north end of the Caspian Sea, through Russia and Kazakhstan.

Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a criminal probe to look into suspected construction safety regulations violations and negligence that could have caused the dam to break.

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