News / Europe

    Russia Reports Fires Are Shrinking

    Russian officials are reporting that the devastating wildfires have shrunk by nearly 150 square kilometers within 24 hours.

    A Russian emergency ministry official said Friday that the fires are being put out and that the situation is under control in Moscow and the Ryazan region.

    Still, 810 square kilometers continue to burn in the country where the fires have left 52 dead and over 3,500 homeless.

    Emergency crews and equipment are being transferred from controlled regions to areas, like Sverdlovsk, where the flames continue to spread.

    U.S. President Barack Obama called Russian President Dmitri Medvedev Thursday to ensure Russia that the U.S. is responding to their requests for emergency crews and supplies.

    Moscow also received some relief from the record-breaking temperatures early Friday morning with cool rain showers.

    In addition, skies over the capital city 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.

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

    The president says the fires, drought and record-heat wave has destroyed nearly 25 percent of Russia's grain crops, leaving many farmers close to bankruptcy.

    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.

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