Pollution soars as Russian wildfires spread

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Pollution soars as Russian wildfires spread

Pollution soars as Russian wildfires spread
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On the ground, Russian leaders are making their presence felt as the country struggles to cope with raging wildfires.

Vladimir Putin has been keen to stamp his authority, with critics claiming the government’s been slow to respond.

His show of solidarity was matched by President Dmitry Medvedev, who broke off his summer holiday and flew back to Moscow for emergency talks as the death toll from the blazes hit 48.

The forest fires and scorching temperatures are now complicating operations for Russia’s large and ageing nuclear sector.

At the secretive Sarov atomic research centre, more than 2,000 firefighters are battling to control flames.

The Kremlin has promised to rebuild all homes destroyed by the fires and pledged generous compensation.

But before that is delivered, firefighting efforts may need to be stepped up.

Robots and plane are being used to reach many inaccessible areas in Russia’s vast woodlands, the world’s biggest.

Thick clouds of acrid, choking smoke from forest and peat bog fires are blanketing several regions.

It has forced authorities to order people to stay indoors despite the sweltering heat to avoid concentrations of toxic carbon monoxide well above safe levels.