Flooding, mudslides cause emergency in Sochi

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Vladimir_Putin_official_portrait

Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Floods and mudslides caused by heavy rain have prompted Russian authorities to introduce a state of emergency in Sochi, the host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said Wednesday that about 1,800 of its personnel were involved in cleaning up the streets and pumping out water after the torrential rain caused local rivers to overfill and flood some sections of highways and a few residential areas in the Black Sea resort.

The ministry said the water level in the city's rivers was receding. Traffic in the city has returned to normal. The city's airport and its railway station were functioning normally.

In the village of Mirny, where 10 houses were affected by flooding, emergency teams were deployed to pump out water.

Human rights advocates have protested Sochi as the site of the Olympics because of growing oppression by the Russian government led by Vladimir Putin. This year, Putin has signed laws against foreign same-sex couples adopting children and against promoting gay Pride to minors and suggesting that same-sex relationships are normal.

In Russia, the laws have sparked protest, led to arrests by the government and also fueled a rise in anti-gay violence, especially attacks on young people.

Outside Russia, the laws have sparked protest and petitions, boycotts of Russian products and calls for a boycott of the Sochi games.

The news reports said torrential rains caused this week's flooding and mudslides.

There have been reports of mudslides in the area in recent years that were linked to large-scale development and illegal dumping of debris from construction work. Environmentalists have been raising concerns about the consequences of developing Sochi, on the Black Sea, for some years.