Russia is experiencing intensifying rural wildfires stoked by a heat wave and strong winds, the country’s Emergency Situations Ministry said.
More than 128,000 hectares (500 square miles) were burning today, the ministry said on its website. New fires appeared as temperatures in the European part of Russia approached 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and winds reached 20 meters per second (45 miles per hour).
“We’re fighting the fires with all our strength,” Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Irina AndrianoveRossiya-24 today. During the past two days, no houses have burned down and there have been no more deaths, she said. told state-run broadcaster
Fourteen regions have declared a state of emergency after wildfires engulfed entire villages, leaving 28 people dead and more than 2,000 homeless, according to Rossiya-24. About 180,000 rescuers are battling the fires, aided by 18 aircraft, Andrianova said. Planes have dropped 3,000 tons of water to douse the flames over the last day.
Moscow has already broken several heat records this season and a drought in agricultural regions has scorched more than 10 million hectares of cropland. High temperatures of at least 36 degrees Celsius are forecast for Moscow in the coming week, according to Gidromettsentr, the state weather service.
PresidentDmitry Medvedev discussed the situation with the governors of five affected regions today, according to the Kremlin website. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due to meet regional leaders in Moscow tomorrow.
The state has already released 321 million rubles ($11 million) out of a total of 4.6 billion rubles in government aid, the Regional Development Ministry said on its website today. Soldiers and volunteers have joined the ranks of firefighters, according to the Emergency
Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, called on believers to pray for rain and assist the victims of the fires, Interfax reported from Diveyevo in the Nizhny Novgorod region, east of Moscow.
Putin traveled to the same region on July 30, where he promised inhabitants of the village of Verkhnyaya Verey are compensation and their homes would be rebuilt by winter.
The Emergency Situations Ministry reported that 1,257 homes have been destroyed by wildfires nationwide.
Source : http://www.bloomberg.com