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Russia's Trans-Siberian railway blocked after flooding damages bridge

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By Reuters
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MOSCOW – Flooding has damaged a bridge on Russia’s Trans-Siberian railway in its Far East, suspending traffic in the area, officials said on Friday, and President Vladimir Putin said full track repair would take five days.

The world’s longest railway is a strategic transportation artery for the Russian economy, taking not just passengers but commodities such as oil, timber and coal between Europe and Asia.

The bridge gave way in Zabaikalsk region, some 300 km (190 miles) north of the border with China and Mongolia, The emergencies ministry said. No casualties were reported.

RIA news agency published pictures of the damaged bridge with two skewed rail lines and parts of the structure in the river.

“It is planned to restore the first line in two or two and a half days, while the second (should be repaired) in some five days,” Putin told the Russian Security Council according to notes on the meeting posted on the Kremlin website.

TASS news agency said around 650 houses were reported flooded and five road bridges washed away in the flooding in the Zabaikalsk region on Thursday after heavy rain.

Russian Railways said passenger traffic was suspended in both directions in the Zabaikalsk part of the railway.

It said it has limited loading of all the cargos destined for the East, apart from food, from all railway stations located to the west of the Bushuley station.

The Trans-Siberian railway, built between 1891 and 1916, stretches from Moscow through vast pine forests, over the Ural mountains and across Siberia to the Pacific Ocean.

Zhengzhou, the capital city of populous Henan province in China, has borne the brunt of extreme wet weather this week, receiving the equivalent of a year’s worth of rain in just a few days.

Germany, Belgium and other countries in Europe have also suffered major flooding this summer.