Russian president declares emergency state in 7 regions engulfed by fires

21:27, August 02, 2010      

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People walk across Moscow's Red Square in heavy smog caused by peat fires in nearby forests August 2, 2010. Wildfires raged across the European parts of the vast country in the past few days, which has been sweltering since June in an unprecedented heat wave. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday declared emergency state in seven regions engulfed by wildfires, and restricted citizens' entries to certain areas, local media reported.

All of the regions were in the central part of Russia, including Moscow, Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, Mariy El, Mordovia, Voronezh and Ryazan.

The president also ordered the armed forces, other troops and military formations to participate in countering the aftermath of the fires that have claimed at least 34 people and left thousands of others homeless.

The presidential decree meanwhile instructed the Interior Ministry to beef up fire safety in the areas listed by regional authorities.

According to Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu, 620 of the 1,200 wildfires ravaging in Russia have been put out, with the 580 still burning.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on the same day urged governors of fire-stricken regions, who gathered in Moscow for an emergency meeting, to reinforce protection of military facilities from the raging blazes.

Temperatures across much of western and central Russia have topped 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) in the past five weeks, causing peat bog and forest fires and creating what is thought to be the worst drought in the country since 1972.

Source: Xinhua


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