Hundreds of Russians die from drowning during heatwave

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As temperatures soared in Russia, almost 300 people drowned last week while going swimming, the Emergency Ministry said Monday.

"Last week, 285 people died in Russia's waterways," an Emergency Ministry spokesman told the RIA Novosti news agency. "The main reasons for people drowning is swimming in places that are not equipped and the use of alcohol."

A record-breaking heatwave in late June saw temperatures reach 37 degrees Celsius (99 degrees Fahrenheit) in central Russian regions, sparking forest fires.

Last year, almost 3,000 Russians drowned while swimming. It is common in Russia to spend weekends taking dips in ponds and rivers, often despite warning signs and murky water.

© 2010 AFP

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