Putin visits site of Siberian dam accident

12:29, 21 August 2009
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Assesses damage...

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited on Friday the site of a deadly accident at Russia`s largest hydropower plant, according to RIA Novosti.

The official death toll from Monday`s accident at the south Siberian dam has now reached 26, with 15 injured. Another 49 people are still missing.

Putin arrived at the Khakasia Republic plant on Friday to inspect the rescue operation and assess the situation with power supplies in the region. He announced that the families of those missing and killed in the accident would receive one million rubles in compensation ($31,450) to be paid by the plant`s owner, RusHydro.

RusHydro has said the damage could take up to two years to repair, and Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko estimated the cost could run to at least 40 billion rubles ($1.2 billion).

Putin also said the Energy Ministry and RusHydro should draw up a plan for the reconstruction of the plant within six weeks.

The search for those missing after the accident is continuing, and water is being continually pumped out of the turbine room, but the chances of finding anyone else alive are now believed to be very low.

Monday`s shutdown of the Sayano-Shushenskaya plant, built in 1978, has caused a severe energy shortfall in the region, forcing local factories to turn to temporary supplies. The accident destroyed three and badly damaged another two out of a total of 10 power-generating units at the plant.

The blast also released a large slick of insulating oil from the plant`s transformers into the Yenisei River.

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