Russian emergency services on Saturday said they had evacuated thousands of people from the southern regions bordering Kazakhstan as flood water continued to rise.

Fast-rising temperatures have melted snow and ice, and along with heavy rain have caused a number of major rivers that pass through Russia and Kazakhstan to overflow this month.

In the city of Orenburg, one of the worst affected areas in Russia, the Ural River has breached its banks, submerging streets and residential areas and water levels continued to rise Saturday.

On Saturday afternoon, the river level reached almost 12 meters (39 feet), more than 2.5 meters above the level considered critical.

Regional governor Denis Pasler said in a press release Sunday evening that “as of today the situation remains complex. In Orenburg the flood is at the maximum peak.”

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The Ural River flows through the center of Orenburg.

Flood water covered the embankment promenade and swirled around houses and an high-rise apartment blocks built close to the river, an AFP journalist saw.

More than 13,000 people have been evacuated from Orenburg and the surrounding region and more than 11,000 homes have been flooded, according to the emergency situations ministry.

Eldar Rakhmetov, a ministry official involved in the evacuation, told AFP that in Orenburg “there has been an increase in the number of homes flooded since this morning and more areas are being evacuated.”

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Local residents were using rubber dinghies to try to retrieve pets and belongings from flooded houses and some areas were left without power.

Valery, 64, a local factory worker, was one of those evacuated Saturday by a police truck.

“The most important thing is that [my house] does not get looted. That is what I am worried about. Other than that, it is fine! We will survive,” he said.

Calls to “evacuate urgently!”

The emergency situations ministry said that in the Kurgan region further east, the level of the Tobol River was continuing to rise steeply and more than 6,000 people had been evacuated.

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The governor, Vadim Shumkov, urged residents likely to be affected to leave now.

“The water is treacherous and when there is so much of it, it rises unpredictably,” Shumkov warned on Telegram, urging people to leave with valuables and pets.

“My fellow Kurgan people, you must evacuate urgently. Urgently!” the governor posted later.

In Kazakhstan, which shares around 7,500 kilometers (4,660 miles) of border with Russia, flooding has reached the outskirts of the northern city of Petropavlovsk, which has around 220,000 residents, causing problems with power and mains water supply.

More than 102,000 people, many of them children, have been evacuated in the vast Central Asian country, where almost 4,000 homes are still flooded, according to the emergency situations ministry.

Climate change due to global warming is associated with more frequent extreme weather events such as floods.

In the Russian city of Orsk in the Orenburg region, where a dam protecting the city from flooding broke this month, residents held rare protests this week over the local authorities' handling of the crisis.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting on the floods on Thursday but has not visited the affected regions.

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