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Region near Moscow declares state of emergency over forest fires

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By AFP  with Euronews
Wildfires have been burning in the Ryazan region near Moscow for several days.
Wildfires have been burning in the Ryazan region near Moscow for several days.   -   Copyright  HANDOUT/AFP   -  

Authorities in the Russian region of Ryazan have declared a state of emergency to help tackle raging forest fires.

Recent blazes have destroyed more than 8,000 hectares of land around 250 kilometres east of Moscow, according to aerial surveillance footage.

The acting regional governor, Pavel Malkov, said that the state of emergency will allow officials to "mobilise more resources to protect the inhabitants and the territories".

"The area covered by the fire continues to increase slowly," he wrote on Telegram.

An estimated 146 hectares were still burning due to ongoing wildfires on Monday, authorities added.

The NGO Greenpeace has estimated that at least 11,000 hectares of land have been affected, as smoke from the fires reached Moscow last week.

The city's mayor Sergei Sobyanin has stated that an additional 8,500 people and 200 pieces of equipment would be deployed to put out the flames.

According to Sobyanin, the area affected was "not very accessible" but that firefighters were now using "bulldozers and heavy machinery" to make their way to the fires.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday there was a risk that forest fires could worsen across the country.

"Risks of deterioration of the situation remain not only in the European part of the country but also in certain regions of the far east, where the fire situation is traditionally difficult," he said during a televised meeting.