New floods strike southern Russia, four killed
* Fresh flood hits province where 171 died last month
* Authorities evacuate 1,500 people
* Putin urges officials to assist those affected
By Gabriela Baczynska
MOSCOW, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Floods killed four people and prompted the evacuation of 1,500 others on Wednesday in the southern Russian province of Krasnodar, where a flash flood last month killed 171 people, police said.
Heavy rain overnight caused a river to burst its banks, flooding 600 homes in the town of Novomikhailovsky and causing power outages in a neighbouring town, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.
President Vladimir Putin, accused in the past of reacting too slowly to disasters, urged emergency officials to take all necessary measures to assist those affected.
The Interior Ministry said four bodies of flood victims had been found, but did not specify where or how they had died, and said 1,500 people had been evacuated.
Krasnodar governor Alexander Tkachev said in a statement on the regional administration's website that the evacuation was timely and that an emergency warning system worked effectively.
Authorities were criticised over a lack of preparedness and a slow response to the flash flood on July 7 which devastated the town of Krymsk. Several officials were sacked and detained after the disaster.
Residents of the mountain town of 57,000 were caught by surprise when water poured into their homes and had little time to flee to safety.
Putin, in power since 2000 and back in the presidency since May after four years as prime minister, has visited the area three times since the July flooding, reassuring residents they would receive new or repaired homes.
He accused local officials of negligence after Russia's top investigator said only 52 Krymsk residents received an official warning about the imminent flooding.
Putin weathered the biggest protests to his 12-year rule over the winter. Active opposition has mainly been confined to big cities and the president is eager not to let it spill into the regions, where he enjoys strong support.
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