Fires threaten Russia heritage

Moscow - Another 300 wildfires in the last 24 hours have added to those already raging across a parched Russia, the leader of the national crisis centre, Vladimir Stepanov told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday.

Russia's worst woodland and peat bog fires in decades have been raging for days following the hottest summer in 130 years. Thousands of soldiers are assisting efforts to put out the blazes - so far to little avail.

The situation is particularly bad in the Nizhny Novgorod region, around 400km east of Moscow, home to the Sarov nuclear research centre. After the number of those fighting the flames around Sarov had been increased to 2 000, the situation had eased, Stepanov said.

The official number of people killed in the fires has now reached 48. But the German-based relief organisation Caritas International, which has begun to distribute clothing and food to the fires' victims, says more people have likely died than is known.

On Wednesday, there were reports of the destruction of cultural heritage for the first time.

Worsening

A Russian Orthodox Church made of wood in the village of Yevlashevo, in the Penza region, was destroyed in the fires. Some of the statues inside dated from the nineteenth century.

The situation in the capital Moscow, home to 10 million people, was also worsening, as smoke from peat bog fires continued to cover the city in smog.

"We're preparing ourselves for a worst case scenario," said Civil Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu.

Forecasts have predicted that temperatures in the capital will increase to around 40C. Many people have complained of breathing difficulties, allergies, nausea and headaches.

Many birds, especially exotic species such as parrots and cockatoos were dying as a result of the smog, the daily Moskovsky Komsomolev wrote, citing veterinary surgeons.

The director of the Moscow bird clinic, Vladimir Romanov, said that pet owners were bringing in dozens of unconscious birds. Some of them had burst blood vessels and signs of severe carbon monoxide poisoning.

May birds were simply falling dead from the sky because of the lack of oxygen in the air and poisonous substances in the atmosphere released by the fires, Komsomolev wrote.
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Rand - Dollar
15.20
+0.8%
Rand - Pound
20.67
+1.0%
Rand - Euro
17.19
+1.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
10.99
+0.6%
Rand - Yen
0.13
+0.7%
Gold
1,838.17
-0.1%
Silver
24.47
+1.3%
Palladium
2,065.50
+3.1%
Platinum
1,042.50
+1.5%
Brent Crude
88.44
+1.1%
Top 40
69,587
+0.1%
All Share
76,233
+0.1%
Resource 10
77,182
+0.2%
Industrial 25
95,831
+0.2%
Financial 15
15,111
-0.6%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE