Russia in flames: a timeline
The forest fires which have been raging in Russia for the past two weeks have killed over 50 people, ravaged whole villages and burned hundreds of thousands of hectares of land.
- Late July: Russia lives through an unprecedented heatwave. A smog cloud created by peat fires burning in the countryside blankets Moscow. Around 60 forest fires are registered.
- 1: Hundreds of thousands of firefighters, reinforced by army troops and planes, battle forest fires sweeping across hundreds of thousands of hectares in central Russia and spreading to the far east.
- 2: A state of emergency is declared in the seven regions which have been most affected. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin summons the governors of the concerned regions.
- 4: President Dmitry Medvedev sacks a string of military officers over failures to stop wildfires. He orders reinforced protection for strategic sites.
- The authorities announce they have removed all radioactive and explosive materials from the major nuclear centre at Sarov in the Nizhny Novgorod region, 500 kilometres (310 miles) to the east of Moscow. Radioactive materials are later returned.
- 5: The wildfires force the Russian defence ministry to order the evacuation of its munitions depots around the capital.
- Putin slaps an embargo on exports of wheat.
- 6: The authorities declare a state of emergency in Ozersk, home to major nuclear reprocessing plant Mayak.
- The authorities appeal for volunteers.
- 7: Moscow residents and tourists, many wearing masks, wheeze as they make their way round the city in the worst smog to hit the capital since the heatwave broke out.
- 8: Russia's emergency response minister orders firefighters to redouble their efforts to put out a wildfire threatening one of the country's nuclear research facilities at Snezhinsk in the Urals.
- 9: Moscow's top health official says the daily mortality rate in the capital has nearly doubled during the heatwave, with 1,300 places currently occupied out of 1,500 spaces in city morgues.
- 10: An expert says the fires can make several nuclear sites dangerous, especially if they block their electric supply.
- Putin is filmed visiting the Ryazan region south of Moscow, one of the worst hit, jumping into a Be-200 jet to scoop up water from local lakes and then dump it on the fires.
- Tests of Iskander missiles and other weapons made at Kolomna, 113 kilometres (70 miles) to the south west of Moscow, are suspended, according to the manufacturer.
- 11: Russia admits that wildfires hit hundreds of hectares of land contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
- The authorities say the area engulfed by flames has been reduced by half, but there were still hundreds of wildfires raging.
© 2010 AFP