Second Russian nuclear facility threatened by fires

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Russia's emergency response minister ordered firefighters to redouble their efforts Sunday to put out a wildfire threatening one of the country's nuclear research facilities in the Urals.

"As for Snezhinsk, I recommend you work through the night," Sergei Shoigu said during a meeting with officials from regions hit by the blazes.

Snezhinsk, located some 1,500 kilometres (925 miles) east of Moscow, is home to of one of Russia's centres for its nuclear research programme.

"You have only seven hectares left, that's not a big area and I hope you can put out that fire," said the minister.

Russia's other major nuclear centre at Sarov in the Nizhny Novgorod region has also been threatened by blazes, but Shoigu said Sunday at the meeting that all of the wildfires around the city had been put out.

After stating several times that the wildfires pose no threat to the nuclear facilities, Russian authorities announced they had removed all radioactive and explosive materials from the site.

The fires which have been blazing as western Russia suffers through a scorching heatwave have killed 52 people.

© 2010 AFP

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