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Life in once flooded Kokpekty village goes on

Emergency Situations Minister Bozhko talks to Kokpekty residents ©Aisulu Bushtayeva Emergency Situations Minister Bozhko talks to Kokpekty residents ©Aisulu Bushtayeva

Houses destroyed in the deadly Kokpekty flood in Karaganda region are being restored, officials responsible for the incident are being criminally prosecuted and a new civil law suit is being readied, Tengrinews reports. Restoration of the houses is due to be completed by September.

On the night of March 31, a dam burst near Kokpekty village in Karaganda Oblast, releasing a 1.8-meter-high wave onto the area bellow. 5 people were killed. Another 6 were hospitalized with hypothermia. Many houses in the village were badly damaged.

Kazakhstan's Minister of Emergency Situations Vladimir Bozhko visited Kokpekty and met with the residents. He reiterated that all the houses in the village that were damaged by the flood would be fully restored by September. "Given the economic potential and the experience of Karaganda builders, the new houses will be available by September 1. You will be moving in on September 1. The houses will be very spacious and built from the finest materials. The living spaces of the houses will be between 60 and 160 square meters," the Minister said.

Karaganda Oblast Akim [Mayor] Nurmukhambet Abdibekov accompanied the Minister in the trip to the village. He reported that construction of several of the houses was behind schedule, but the lag was not very big – two weeks. He blamed the subcontractor for the disruption. "The contract with him has been terminated and a new subcontractor has been hired. He will catch up with the schedule,” Abdibekov said.

Minister Bozhko also said that besides the existing criminal case, the government was preparing to file a civil damages claim against those who failed to property maintain the dam and were held responsible for the accident.

This criminal case was initiated under the Article 316 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan - "Negligence” against two officials – the head of Emergency Situations Department of Bukhara-Zhyrau region and akim of Kokpekty rural district.

Also, the founder and director of the firm that operated the dam, are subjects to a criminal prosecution under the Article 232 "Dishonest Attitude towards Obligations". All the defendants are under travel restrictions while the investigation is ongoing.

“The civil lawsuit is being prepared. How the accused will return the budget money is for the court to decide," Bozhko said referring the to expenses that the government had to incur to cure the aftermath of the tragedy.

Abdibekov added that the now privately owned Kokpekti reservoir may be nationalised to make sure no more similar tragedies take place in future. "Our legal department is conducting pre-trial work on the change of ownership and transfer of ownership of the reservoir to the state. I believe that it would be better for everyone - for the executive branch and for Kokpekty residents because it is difficult to monitor the condition of a private reservoir, whereas in case it is a state property, the inspections are made on a regular basis," Abdibekov said.

Reporting by Aisulu Bushtayeva, writing by Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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