Russia ends last fires emergency as cool sets in

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Russia on Monday ended a state of emergency in the last of seven regions where it had been declared due to raging wildfires, as dwindling blazes and rain brought relief from its worst ever heatwave.

"The president (Dmitry Medvedev) decided to lift the state of emergency from the forest fires in the Ryazan region," some 200 kilometres (124 miles) west of Moscow, the Kremlin said in statement.

The decision marked the end of a fires crisis that had seen some 200,000 hectares of land ablaze at its peak and a state of emergency declared in seven regions.

Over 50 people were killed in the fires that engulfed forests and peat bogs.

Last week, Medvedev reported success containing fires that had raised a major alarm close to Russia's main nuclear research centre in the town of Sarov, on the border of the Nizhny Novgorod and Mordavia regions.

Meanwhile, drizzle and grey skies hung over Moscow cooling temperatures to around 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), in stark contrast the smog and hot temperatures edging near 40 degrees that hit Russians earlier this month.

© 2010 AFP

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