50 dead as wildfires continue to ravage Russia

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50 dead as wildfires continue to ravage Russia

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Fifty people have now died during the Russian heatwave crisis as foreign reinforcements arrive to help extinguish nearly 600 different wildfires.

Two Canadian water bombing planes from Italy along with firefighters and equipment from Ukraine and Belarus are being deployed.

Emergencies have been declared in seven regions and more than 160,000 firefighters backed by civilian volunteers are tackling the flames.

Several top military officials have been sacked for failing to prevent the destruction of a naval base outside Moscow despite Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s admission that the fire services have been overwhelmed.

“In normal circumstances, our firefighters are reliable and well trained,” he said. “They have a tradition for that. Now they are real heroes, they’re breaking their backs extinguishing those fires. But, let’s face it, for a disaster of such scale they are simply not equipped.”

In the Nizhny Novgorod region 400 kilometres east of Moscow firefighters have been battling blazes near a major nuclear research facility.

As a precaution all nuclear materials have been removed from the site.

Forecasters say high temperatures are likely to persist for several more days.