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Russian fires spread to far east

Russian fires spread to far east
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As the authorities battle to contain forest fires that have parts of central Russia, others have spread to the extreme east of the country.

Officials close to the border with China say their region has been affected. Fires have also been reported in the Kamtchatka peninsula in the extreme north-east.

In some areas of central Russia, temperatures have reached forty degrees. Across the country nearly a quarter of a million people have been mobilised.

In Tatarstan the authorities are using aircraft to monitor flashpoints.

The republic’s forestry minister flew over the area.

“No-one’s been caring for the peat fields for more than 25 years,” he said. “Given today’s climate conditions, peat has acquired the property to ignite spontaneously.”

The authorities have banned trips into the woods and have called up reservists to help regular troops.

Tourists are being blamed for leaving behind garbage. Bottles act like magnifying glasses in the heat, causing fires to start.

“It looked like a war, there was smoke from everywhere,” said one woman.

“We took buckets filled with water and stopped the fire ourselves as it was approaching our houses,” said her neighbour.

Officials say at least thirty people have been killed by the forest fires. Although several villages and large areas of forest have been destroyed, the authorities say the situation is under control.