Death toll in Russian forest fires reaches 18: official

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The death toll from forest fires that are sweeping across Russia amid a record heatwave grew to 18 on Friday, including six in a single Moscow region village, officials said.

The bodies of six residents were discovered in the village of Mokhovoye in the Moscow region, news agencies reported, citing the emergency ministry.

The governor of the Ryazan region, one of those worst hit, said that three people had died in the region, in televised comments.

A fireman died in hospital from burns after fighting flames on Thursday in a village in the Lipetsk region, the chief doctor at the regional burns centre told the Itar-Tass news agency on Friday.

Earlier, the deaths of a fireman in the Moscow region and seven deaths in the Nizhny Novgorod and Voronezh regions were reported.

Forest fires swept through central Russia amid a record heatwave that has led to droughts in 23 regions and seen the temperature in Moscow hit an all-time record of 38.2 degrees celsius.

© 2010 AFP

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