Moscow wildfires extinguished by weekend: minister

19th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Fires in peatbogs and forests surrounding Moscow, which have made life a misery in the Russian capital since July, will be extinguished by Sunday, Russia's emergencies minister said.

"The fires should be entirely contained at the end of the week, August 22," Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies during a crisis meeting.

"As of Thursday, 95 percent of the fires in the Moscow region have been put out," deputy emergencies minister Alexander Chupriyan was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS news agency.

Flames are currently covering a surface of seven hectares (17 acres) in the region, compared with 56 hectares (138 acres) on August 8, he said.

Shoigu put the initial cost of the fires in the Moscow region at 12 billion rubles (306 million euros/393 million dollars)), covering firefighting costs, reconstruction and fuel.

Across Russia on Thursday, fires were covering an area of 11,200 hectares (27,700 acres), down from 20,000 hectares (49,500 acres) on Wednesday, the ministry said.

At the peak of the crisis, some 200,000 hectares (495,000 acres) had been ablaze in forest and peat bog fires that killed over 50 people.

Cooler temperatures were helping the situation, with Moscow a pleasant 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit), a far cry from the 38 degrees Celsius (100 F) at the peak of the heatwave.

However, a fire in a 15-hectare (37-acre) rubbish dump outside Moscow was sending vile-smelling fumes over parts of the city.

© 2010 AFP

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