Armenia designates flood-hit communities as disaster areas

Armenia designates flood-hit communities as disaster areas

PanARMENIAN.Net - As a result of the emergency situation created by floods caused by heavy rains in Armenia’s north on May 25-26, a number of communities in Lori and Tavush provinces have been declared disaster areas.

A decision approved by the government defines the areas.

Several settlements still remain cut off from the outside world after the country’s worst flooding in decades that killed four people and caused extensive damage to local infrastructure.

Due to heavy rainfall, rivers flowing through Lori and Tavush burst their banks early on Sunday, washing away roads, bridges and parts of a railway and flooding towns and villages located along them. The national Rescue Service has evacuated 429 local residents.

According to Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures Gnel Sanosyan, some 5,500 other people remained stranded in Akhtala, a mining town close to the Georgian border, and several nearby villages. Rescuers supplied them with food and drinking water for the second consecutive day.

The Akhtala area was cut off because the floods left a bridge on the sole road connecting it to the provincial capital Vanadzor under water. Sanosyan said authorities on the ground are scrambling to build a bypass road.

“We have a total of 14 damaged bridges,” Sanosyan said during Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s video conference with members of a task force coordinating the Armenian government’s response to the calamity, RFE/RL’s Armenian service reports.

The floods also seriously damaged the two national highways leading to Armenia’s main border crossing with Georgia. The damage was particularly severe to the M6 highway passing through Lori.

“At eight or nine sections, the road was completely or partially destroyed,” Sanosyan said, adding that rebuilding them “will take a lot of time and resources.”

In Lori, M6 runs parallel to the sole railway connecting Armenia to Georgia. Sanosyan said a total of 2.5 kilometers of rail track there were washed away. In the minister’s words, “it will take some time” to restore railway communication between the two countries.

According to a government statement, Pashinyan and other officials agreed on the need for “international support in solving problems” caused by the floods. The statement said nothing about the scale of such aid that could be requested by Yerevan.

It also remained unclear whether the government could compensate Lori and Tavush residents whose homes were destroyed or seriously damaged on Sunday. Some of them also lost shops and other businesses or had goods perish because of flood waters.

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