Over 70 drown in single day in Russian heatwave: official

20th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Seventy-one people drowned in Russia in a single day, officials said Tuesday, as many sought relief from a prolonged heatwave by jumping into lakes and rivers.

The Russian emergency ministry registered 85 cases of people getting into difficulties in water, with 71 people drowning in the last 24 hours alone, it said on its website Tuesday.

"This is a record number of drownings in a 24-hour period out of those registered this year," a spokeswoman for the ministry, Veronika Smolskaya, told AFP.

Last year, 2,733 Russians drowned. Most of those who died were drunk and swimming off beaches without guards or safety equipment, the ministry said.

This summer the toll looks likely to be much higher, as Russia has seen a prolonged heatwave with temperatures reaching 35 degrees Celsius in Moscow on Saturday.

Almost 2,500 people have drowned already this year, 1,244 of them in June alone. So far in July, the toll stands at 689.

The Interfax news agency said that in recent weeks Mondays had proved by far the most lethal day of the week for swimming in Russia this summer, with 52 also killed on Monday, July 12.

On Friday, a 25-year-old woman was killed while swimming in a reservoir in the Moscow region when a motor boat ploughed into a swimming area and caught her in its propellers, before speeding off without stopping.

The police on Tuesday detained a man suspected of renting the yacht.

© 2010 AFP

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