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40 dead as Russia declares states of emergency

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40 dead as Russia declares states of emergency


Forty people have now died in wildfires sweeping western Russia with no sign of a let up in the tinder dry conditions.

President Dmitry Medvedev has declared a state of emergency in seven regions. Public access to the affected areas has been severely restricted.

Moscow is shrouded in smoke from smouldering peat fires and burning forests on the outskirts of the city.

Medvedev said: “This is a great tragedy. The state understands its responsibilities. I have given orders to the government and the regional authorities to allocate financial aid to each person who was affected by fires.”

Worst hit areas are Voronezh, Ryazan and Nizhny Novgorod where 19 of the 40 fatalities were recorded.

One car full of volunteers had a narrow escape as they drove to help neighbours tackling an approaching fire. They were almost cut off by flames moving at running-speed behind them.

Weather forecasters are predicting record temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius, that is 104 degrees Fahrenheit in central and southern regions with strong winds expected to fan the flames.

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