Russia was not adequately prepared for its stifling heatwave that is thought to have killed thousands of people, according to a leading scientist.
As well as soaring temperatures, Moscow has suffered severe air pollution caused by forest fires.
In the capital alone nearly 6,000 more people died in July than in the same month last year.
It has led experts to make some awkward comparisons.
“European countries, the USA and Canada have accumulated vast experience of how to react during heatwaves,” said Boris Revich, a senior researcher at Russia’s Academy of Sciences. “As for us, the only thing I can cite is a letter from the Russian Health Ministry on the issue. Regrettably, we are now just on our way to having such a national plan.”
He singled out a hot spell that killed up to 50,000 people in the EU in 2003.
It is thought most of the Russians who died from the heat were elderly people. Many had taken shelter in social centres. But these, like hospitals, maternity wards and ambulances, usually have no air-conditioning in Russia.
While cooler weather forecast by the weekend should bring cleaner air to Moscow, more figures are awaited on the heatwave’s victims.
The debate on how to limit the damage in future is only just beginning.
Russia 'unprepared for heatwave' says scientist