Thousands deployed to fight deadly fires in Russia | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 31.07.2010
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Thousands deployed to fight deadly fires in Russia

At least 30 people have perished as forest fires continue to sweep Russia. Flames have engulfed villages, farms and forests in what is Russia's hottest summer on record. On Saturday, 400 fires affected 14 regions.

Firefighters work at the scene of a forest fire

Wildfires have hit at least 14 Russian regions

Thousands of firefighters and army troops on Saturday battled wildfires that have swept across Russia, destroying homes and killing at least 30 people in the country's worst heat wave on record.

A total of 240,000 people were involved in efforts to stave off the forest fires, as well as 226 aircraft, said Sergei Shaposhnikov, the Emergency Ministry's civil defense chief, as quoted by the Interfax news agency.

Four hundred fires were still affecting at least 14 regions early Saturday, with the Voronezh and Nizhny Novgorod provinces the worst affected, Rossiya-24 TV reported. Russia's Emergency Ministry offered some hope with its announcement that 387 fires had been extinguished the day before.

The Moscow region, also affected, is currently suffering its hottest summer since records began 130 years ago.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised Friday to help victims rebuild their homes during a visit to the village of Verkhnyaya Vereya, where more than 300 nearby houses were destroyed, leaving over 500 people homeless.

a line of residents passes on a bucket of water to help put out peat fires

Military and civilians alike do all they can to put out the blazes

"By winter, all the houses will be standing. I promise you that your village will be restored," Putin pledged in a televised meeting with villagers.

Putin has already allocated five billion rubles (127 million euros, $165 million) to rebuild houses and will personally oversee the process, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies on Friday.

Author: David Levitz (AFP/AP)

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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