Moscow death rates up 50 percent in heatwave: ministry

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Russia's health ministry on Monday confirmed that mortality rates rose 50 percent in Moscow during the country's worst ever heatwave, the first official confirmation of a spike in deaths.

"July 2010 in Russia was characterized by abnormally high temperatures that immediately affected growing death rates," the health ministry said in a statement.

"The highest mortality rate -- 50.7 percent -- was registered in Moscow," it said comparing the city's death rates to other regions.

Federal authorities have so far steadfastly refused to give details about any national death toll, although one Moscow official has said there have been hundreds more deaths each day in the capital alone due to the country's worst ever heatwave.

© 2010 AFP

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