The number of people who have died or are missing as a result of a devastating flood in western Ukraine has risen to 38, including eight children, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
It said the largest number of deaths and missing people is registered in the Ivano-Frankovsk region.
More than 50 settlements are still inundated and about 80 villages in the Carpathians remain isolated from the rest of the world with all access roads and bridges having been destroyed by the flood.
Two helicopters of the Emergencies Ministry fly there daily to deliver 20 tonnes of food – a daily ration. Several hundred children, sick people and pregnant women have been evacuated from the waterlogged settlements by air.
Police and medics in the Ivano-Frankovsk region are monitoring 18 cattle burring sites, 39 cemeteries, and four dumpsites in order to prevent epidemics.
The Odessa region is also facing the risk of inundation. The level of water in the lower sections of the Dniester region may exceed a critical point on August 5, the Emergencies Ministry said.
The road linking Odessa and Reni and agricultural lands near the Dniester lagoon are half a meter under water.
Weather forecasts have warned of a new storm in the western and central regions of Ukraine beginning Tuesday.
President Viktor Yushchenko has declared a three-month state of emergency in the region to deal with the crisis.
The government has set up a central headquarters to coordinate post-flood rehabilitation work in western regions affected by a devastating flood. First Vice Prime Minister Alexander Turchinov was in charge of the headquarters.
Sanitary services are conducting constant epidemiological monitoring in the disaster area.
Health Minister Vasily Knyazevich said “no outbreaks of infections have been registered so far”.
Ten thousand medics are working in the flood-stricken regions.
About 12,000 children from these regions will be taken to summer camps.
More than 2,000 houses in 140 towns and villages in Western Ukraine remain waterlogged after a massive flood that hit the Vinnitsa, Trans-Carpathian, Ivano-Frankovsk, Lvov, and Chernovtsy regions last week.
Simultaneously rehabilitation works continue in the majority of the calamity-stricken areas.
The Ministry for Emergency Situations reports that 77 damns have been reinforced. It also says that repair teams have restored over 200 kilometers of automobile roads have been restored.
Transport Minister Iosif Vinsky said damage to the roads and transport systems has exceeded one billion hryvnas (about 200 million U.S. dollars). About 134 kilometres of roads have been damaged and 82 bridges are still out of order.
The Emergencies Ministry said the situation in six western regions of Ukraine is gradually normalising. A total of 49 settlements remained in the flood zone by Monday morning, while a week ago 784 settlements were flooded.
Emergency service officials in flood-hit Western Ukraine said water levels in a number of rivers were slowly subsiding.
Some 655 settlements and over 57,000 hectares of farmland were washed out by the floods. The Ivano-Frankovsk region suffered the most.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko said the flood peak had passed. The water level in Western Ukraine is decreasing. “Now there is no threat to the region,” she added.
Timoshenko also said the flood in Western Ukraine would have no impact on the grain harvest. “Despite bad weather, we hope that our forecast for the grain harvest will hold up.” She said Ukraine had collected 23.4 million tonnes of grain.