'Biblical' Flash Floods Hit Russian Black Sea Resort amid Storms, Tornadoes

A massive flood hit Russia's Sochi on Saturday, leaving streets in the country's largest resort city under water as the Bzugu River overflowed after heavy rains. According to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, at least one person has died.

Bad weather had been expected to strike the Black Sea city on July 23, with meteorologists warning of potential tornadoes forming off the coast, mudflows and the risks of severe storms causing showers, thunder and hail.

Heavy rain started falling on Friday night, with Ukrainian news media Dialog.UA reporting that some 40mm (1.6 inches) of rain —the equivalent of a month's rainfall— came down in only a few hours.

Russia's Emergency Ministry reported that over 76mm (almost three inches) of rain fell in one hour in one of the city's districts, where an emergency situation was declared by authorities.

Videos of the city shared on social media show streets turned into rivers, with vehicles being swept away by powerful currents.

Dialog.UA reports that the flooding, which it describes as "biblical," left yards, basements and the first floors of houses in Sochi's Khostinsky district under water. Some houses had their energy cut off.

Residents and guests were being asked by authorities to stay at home, according to Dialog.UA.

It's the second time in a month that Sochi—a beach resort city that is home to some 350,000 people—has been hit by such heavy rains, after the Black Sea city that hosted the 2014 winter Olympics first experienced devastating flooding on June 24.

Following the flood, city authorities said they were working to "eliminate the consequences of bad weather," according to the Caucasian Knot, an online news site focusing on the Caucasus region. The information was communicated on Russia's "VKontakte," the country's biggest social network.

"Public utilities are clearing clogged storm drains; damage to power lines is recorded," the Sochi administration wrote on its VKontakte page.

But the comments in response to the city authorities' message were mostly critical of Sochi's administration.

"In pursuit of profits from vacationers, they've erected buildings, but failed to take into account storm water drains, outlets and storage tanks. Now it's a problem," one user wrote.

"During the construction, natural water flows from the mountains were disturbed. Therefore, water is flowing along streets," said another.

Russian blogger Anatoly Nesmiyan also commented on the flooding, saying the city's administration was to blame. Sharing clips from the scenes of flooding, he wrote on his Telegram account:

"Sochi. It just rained. An absolutely classic problem of the coast: there is not enough land, it is not just expensive, but indecently expensive. So that more land can be sold, for construction, turning a blind eye to these snips of yours, they transfer drainage areas on which nothing can be built at all. And in Sochi, when they were preparing for the Olympics, they didn't pay attention to such a trifle at all. The highest desire must be fulfilled."

"And water—it is as usual. On the shortest path. And if something interferes with it, then it accumulates, and then demolishes. Well, plus storm water—another chronic problem. So everything is natural," he concluded.

Sochi flood
In this photo from 2015, floods hit Sochi. One woman died in Sochi when the Russian city was hit by massive flooding on Saturday. AP Photo/Zhanna Pozoyan