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Fires extend grip in western Russia
At least 28 people are killed as fires engulf 30 per cent more territory in 24 hours.
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2010 13:30 GMT
More than 10,000 firefighters are among the almost 250,000 people fighting the fires [AFP]

At least 28 people have been killed by raging forest fires across parts of western Russia, engulfing 30 per cent more territory in just 24 hours, officials have said.

But the officials said the fires, which have wiped out villages and vast areas of woodland, had been brought under control as evacuations continued on Saturday.

The emergencies ministry said in a website statement that "the situation with fires ... is under control" due to preventative measures being taken.

Anatoly Serdyukov, the defence minister, said all 300 of the army's fire lorries had been dispatched to help fight blazes across at least 14 of the country's 83 regions, including outside Moscow, the capital.

But state television reported that in some regions up to 20 new fires were being registered every day.

State of emergency

More than 10,000 firefighters were among the almost 250,000 people involved in tackling the fires in all, officials said.

In the industrial city of Togliatti, in central Russia, 2,000 children were evacuated from a summer camp as a state of emergency was declared, the state Itar-Tass news agency reported.

In Nizhny Novgorod, where at least 540 homes have been destroyed, villages and towns were still under threat from about 60 wildfires raging in the area, the authorities said.

A state of emergency has been declared in 14 out of Russia's 83 federal districts and 240,000 people have been deployed to fight the fires, media and officials said.

Sizzling temperatures - around 40 degrees Celsius in some areas - have parched vast areas of Russia's agricultural land.

Vladimir Putin, the prime minister, has had to cancel meetings to fly to the Nizhny Novgorod region. He ordered his government to allocate $165m to help victims.

Source:
Agencies
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