Wildfires ravage Russian villages

April 21st, 2012 - 11:04 am ICT by IANS  

Moscow, April 21 (IANS/RIA Novosti) One person was killed and over 86 square km of land, that included at least 75 houses, were destroyed due to a wildfire in Russia’s far eastern region, officials said.

Around 120 residents of Tygda village in Amur region were evacuated Friday due to the fires, which destroyed 75 of 1,200 buildings, the regional emergency situations ministry said.

Officials said one resident was found dead in the burnt rubble and one was hospitalised.

Tygda hosts an oil base, rescuers said.

In other places in the Far East, 10 homes were burned in Zaozernoye village in Khabarovsk region Friday, officials said. No one was harmed.

The dry winter, the early onset of warm weather and strong winds, as well as local people’s habit of burning away old grass in the spring have resulted in an unusual number of wildfires across Siberia and the Far East this month.

A total of 111 fires have been reported, Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said Friday. He lambasted regional officials for neglecting the firefighting work.

The total area damaged by wildfires in the country in 2012 stood at 100,000 hectares (1,000 square km), nearly three times more than in the same period of 2011, the Federal Forestry Agency said.

In 2010, central Russia was blanketed by wildfires, which covered some 200,000 hectares of land and filled many cities, including Moscow, with acrid smog.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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