Moscow wildfires threaten public health

2010-08-06 09:39

Smog from wildfires in the countryside cloaked Moscow today, with numerous commuters wearing anti-pollution masks.

The city’s most famous landmarks, such as the spires of the Kremlin towers or the onion domes of Orthodox churches, were largely invisible from a distance as Muscovites wheezed their way through the smog into work.

“Smog has covered the entire city and the situation is getting worse,” Alexei Popikov of Moscow’s pollution monitoring service, Mosekomonitoring, said on state television.

Air traffic was disturbed at one of Moscow’s main international airports, with some aircraft landing at other airports due to the smoke.

Mosekomonitoring said the concentration of toxic particles in the air was higher than the norm by a factor of 20 in some areas and even people in good health should consider staying at home.

Early morning commuters were wearing anti-pollution masks. Pharmacists reported a spike in sales.

Forecasters warned that the record heat wave was going to continue in the coming days, with little rain forecast.

Russia is battling its worst forest fires in modern history, with emergency services still struggling to contain the flames.

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