Fires kill 5 in Kazakhstan

2010-09-09 08:36

Almaty - Forest fires have killed five people in northern Kazakhstan, the country's emergencies ministry said on Thursday, as neighbouring Russia sent aircraft to fight blazes advancing onto its territory.

More than 500 firefighters were trying to contain the fires, which broke out at about noon on Wednesday and have already spread into some parts of Russia, the ministry said.

Russia's emergencies ministry said Kazakh authorities had allowed it to send special aircraft to the neighbouring Central Asian nation to help local firefighters.

Three "fire fronts" were advancing towards Russia's Novosibirsk and Altai regions, the Russian emergencies ministry said in a statement.

It said fires were raging in one district of the Altai region, threatening several others.

A total of 334 houses have burnt down in the Altai region, leaving about 1 000 people homeless, RIA news agency cited a Russian official as saying.

More than 260 villagers had been evacuated in northern Kazakhstan, the Kazakh Emergencies Ministry said.

In Russia, severe fires caused by an unprecedented heatwave have killed more than 60 people since July.