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Russia Reports 25 Percent Grain Losses from Drought, Fires

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev says 25 percent of Russia's grain crops have been destroyed by weeks of drought and wildfires, leaving many Russian farmers close to bankruptcy.

Mr. Medvedev told farmers and grain traders in southern Russia Thursday that the situation is "difficult" and even "extreme."

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced a ban on Russian grain exports last week to keep domestic food and livestock feed prices from skyrocketing. The ban could last until end of the year.

Also Thursday Mr. Medvedev lifted a state of emergency in three of seven regions hit by the worst of the wildfires, which have destroyed thousands of homes.

The official death toll from the Russian fires, drought, and a long record-breaking Moscow heat wave stands at 52.

Skies over Moscow were clear Thursday, giving the city's 10 million residents desperately needed relief from more than a week of a thick, acrid smog blanketing the city.

Peat bog fires outside the city have enveloped Moscow in smoke and dangerous pollution.

Emergency workers are pumping water from the Oka Rover into the bogs, which were drained during the days of the Soviet Union to harvest fuel.