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Russia fears repeat of last year's forest fires

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Russia fears repeat of last year's forest fires

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Russia has been hit by fast-spreading forest fires, sparking fears of a repeat of last year’s heatwave and drought.

Officials said on Wednesday that the affected area measures 10,800 hectares, with the worst fires raging in the far eastern regions of the country. Muscovites have for days struggled with a heatwave with temperatures at times reaching 35 degrees Celsius.

Last year’s fires forced people to quit the capital in droves and caused the city’s mortality rates to double.

It also hampered Russia’s economic growth as the flames consumed large swathes of wheat crops, a key export. That in turn had an effect on food prices.

Several top officials were sacked by President Dmitry Medvedev over their perceived poor response to tackling the crisis.