Emergency declared in Russia as wildfires kill 12

July 31st, 2010 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, July 31 (IANS/RIA Novosti) A state of emergency has been declared in 14 regions across Russia after devastating wildfires claimed 12 lives and rendered thousands of people homeless.
About 240,000 people are fighting wildfires and peat bog fires, a spokeswoman for the emergencies ministry’s information service said Saturday.

Over the last 24 hours, more than 1,000 homes have been destroyed and several villages burned to the ground in the largest wildfire ever to hit the European part of Russia.

Meanwhile, rescue workers discovered three bodies in Nizhny Novgorod region Saturday, bringing the death toll to 12.

According to the official figures Saturday morning, some 121,500 hectares of forest are burning. There are also 18 peat bog fires, nine of which are in the Central Federal District.

Wildfires are threatening more than 200 villages in the Russian regions of Voronezh, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, as well as in the republic of Mordovia, an official of the National Centre for Crisis Situations said.

“Since July 29, in the Nizhny Novgorod region alone 575 homes were burned to the ground and 1,500 people were evacuated,” the official said.

“Altogether in the Volga Federal District, 625 homes have burned, in Voronezh - more than 200 homes have burned and more than 1,000 people have been evacuated,” he said.

He also said that military personnel have joined in with the ministry to extinguish the fires.

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

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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