Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered investigators to find out if enough was done to prevent 150 people being killed in floods in southern Russia, after flying to the region to deal with the first big disaster of his new presidency.
With another 13,000 affected in the Krasnodar region, the floods are the worst natural disaster in the area in a decade.
Many of the dead were elderly people who had been sleeping and drowned.
Most of the victims died in or around Krymsk, a town about 300km northwest of Sochi, the Black Sea resort where Russia will host the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The rising waters came when a torrential downpour during the night brought a month's worth of rain to the Krasnodar region in just a few hours.
"Everything happened at night and very quickly," the regional administration said in a statement.
Authorities said they had to switch off power in the worst-affected areas, the district of Krymsk, to avoid more deaths after reports of residents in Gelendzhik dying of electrocution.
Putin, who was criticised for his slow reaction to disasters earlier in his career, also ordered money to be put aside late on Saturday for building new homes for victims of the worst flooding in decades in Krasnodar, a relatively rich area with thriving agriculture and tourism industries.
Novorossiysk, the nation's largest Black Sea port, which had received two months worth of rain in a 24-hour period, has suspended exports of grain, metals and crude oil.
A team at the port had worked through the night to bring the situation under control, port spokesman Mikhail Sidorov said.
"In some places the water level reached 1.5 metres," he told AFP.
The floods and a landslide had affected the port's operations, and pipeline operator Transneft had informed management that it would halt shipments of crude oil, he added.
A Kremlin statement said Putin is "regularly receiving information about the state of affairs in Kuban from the health, emergencies situations and regional development".
Alexander Tkachev, Krasnodar's governor, said he had spoken by telephone to both the president and Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister, and pledged everything would be done to help those affected by the floods.
The State Hydrometeorology Agency said more rain was possible on Saturday and Sunday, as Tkachov urged people not to panic.
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|William A. Cook|