Pollution soars amid Russian blazes

Residents advised to leave city as smog from raging wildfires envelopes Moscow.

    Almost 10,000 firefighters are struggling to contain the wildfires [AFP]

    'Situation extreme'

    "The situation is truly extreme. People are in circumstances under which they should not have to live," a member of the League for the Nation's Health group told the Kommersant daily.

    At least 52 people have died and 2,000 homes have been destroyed in the fires.

    US state department warned its nationals from travelling to affected areas due to the “hazardous levels of pollution", while Germany closed its embassy until further notice and advised citizens against "non-essential" travel. 

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    Dozens of incoming flights were diverted from the city's two main airports as smog brought runway visibility down to 325 metres in Domodedovo airport and 550 metres in Vnukovo airport.

    The smog from spreading wildfires has also forced the Russian Football Union (RFU) to move a friendly match against Bulgaria to Saint Petersburg, local media reported.

    About 10,000 firefighters have been deployed to battle the blazes, a number Russian officials acknowledge is not enough. Firefighters from Italy, Germany and Bulgaria flew in to help while several other countries have sent firefighting aircraft.

    Russian troops excavated an 8km long canal to prevent the flames from advancing to the top secret Sarov nuclear arms facility, located 354km east of Moscow. The emergency ministry has said the situation has"stabilised" as all nuclear materials were transferred to a safe site.

    A wildfire last week caused huge damage at a Russian naval air base outside the capital, with Russian media reporting as many as 200 planes may have been destroyed.

    Weather forecasters say Russia's worst heatwave in decades would continue for the coming days, with a temperature reaching up to 38 degrees Celsius.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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