July 30, 2010

18 dead and thousands homeless in Russia by forest fires

MOSCOW - Eighteen people were killed and thousands have lost their homes in the wildfires that have ravaged several districts in the west-central Russia, concerned over several weeks by an unprecedented heat wave, officials said Friday.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev ordered Friday to mobilize the army to fight the flames, his spokesman said Natalia Timakova, quoted by Russian news agencies.

"The president has ordered the Defense Ministry to mobilize all necessary forces and capabilities to help extinguish the flames," she said.

The body of a fireman, whose death had been announced before, and the bodies of six people were found Friday in the town of Mojovoie, near Moscow, which was destroyed by fire yesterday, said a ministry official Situations Emergency quoted by Russian news agencies.

Fifteen houses were destroyed in that population, also said Yulia Jukov spokesman research committee of the local prosecutor, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

Five people, including a firefighter, died on Thursday in the Voronezh region (center), where 21 people were hospitalized, the ministry of emergency situations.

For his part, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin traveled to the village of Verjniaia Vereia in Nizhny Novgorod region (center), whose 340 houses were burned in just 20 minutes. Two people died. Putin met with the victims and promised that the town will be rebuilt before the winter arrives later this year. Putin also promised compensation of 200,000 rubles ($ 6,614) to each of the inhabitants, according to news agency ITAR-TASS.

In the same region, east of Moscow "two people died, 1,479 were evacuated and 550 houses burned," said local prosecutors in a statement.

Three hospitals and several holiday camps were evacuated on emergency Voronezh, a city where the flames were visible from residential buildings, according to Russian television images. "I was in my house, I was choking, the houses were burning, you could not see anything," said Valentina Britova, a retired television channel Rossia. Another resident, Elena Vituchkina, told how the evacuation was "the bus was surrounded by flames, like a movie."

In the Moscow region and Ryazan (200 kilometers southeast of the capital) Forest fires also broke out. In Ryazan, three people died in fires, Oleg Kovalev said the governor was quoted by the Interfax agency. The authorities declared a state of emergency Riazan after it burned 110 buildings in the last 24 hours.

"We had a house, a barn, everything was burned Where will we go? Where are we going to get money to buy a home?" He questioned a young resident of Riazam, according to the Rossia television images.

The situation worsened since Thursday because of the wind, which has increased the speed of propagation of the flames.

The western part of Russia suffers from a month ago an unprecedented heat wave, with temperatures approaching 40 degrees celsius.

- Written By Geetha -

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