Eight Russians die in forest fires

Eight people have been killed by forest fires which have raged for two days in Russia's Kurgan region in the eastern Urals.

    Firefighters have battled a blaze that leaves over 1000 homeless

    The toll included seven victims in the town of Chashinsk, according to official figures published by the Interfax news agency on Sunday. 
     
    A dozen fires in the region have destroyed more than 5000 hectares of forest since Friday, Interfax reported.

    Some 400 homes have been set ablaze, leaving more than 1000 people without a roof over their heads. They have been temporarily lodged in hotels in the region. 

    More than 1500 firefighters, aided by planes and helicopters, are fighting the fires, but high winds and high temperatures (around 40C) in west Siberia were hampering their efforts. 

    A special firefighting plane was to arrive from Moscow on Sunday along with 320 emergency workers from neighbouring areas.

    Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoy told Interfax "the forest fire was started intentionally".

    A criminal investigation is under way.

    SOURCE: AFP


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