Ukraine parliament examines floods after 30 dead

1ASD123D.jpgKIEV (Reuters) – Floods in western Ukraine have killed 30 people and prompted the evacuation of nearly 18,000, officials said on Thursday, after five days of rain caused rivers to spill over into villages and farmland.

Emergencies Minister Volodymyr Shandra announced the death toll in a parliamentary debate convened to discuss compensation and changes to the budget. Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko told the chamber 18,000 residents had fled their homes.

Figures earlier this week said 22 had died, including six children and two people struck by lightning. A senior minister described the flooding as the worst in a century, with the Prut and Dnestr Rivers rising to dangerous levels.

Deputies endorsed a decree President Viktor Yuschchenko’s decree declaring six regions “emergency ecological zones”.

They then examined two proposals for compensation — one submitted by Yushchenko, the other by Tymoshenko.

The two politicians, allies during the 2004 “Orange Revolution” that brought pro-Western liberals to power, have been at odds over a long list of issues since Tymoshenko was appointed premier for a second time last year.

The prime minister sought an additional 2.3 billion hryvnias ($475 million) to be raised by higher excise rates for tobacco and alcohol and land taxes. The president proposed 4 billion hryvnias ($825 million) through increases in value added tax.

In neighboring Romania, four people died in floods in the northeastern county of Maramures. The Bucharest government put up 50 million lei ($22 million) this week to rebuild damaged infrastructure and provide aid to affected villagers.

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