News / Europe

Russian Military Deployed to Help Fight Wildfires

Army troops joined the battle Saturday to contain blazes in central Russia that have killed about 30 people in the past three days.

Emergency officials say some of the fires have subsided, but 14 regions are still badly affected.

Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov told President Dmitri Medvedev in a televised briefing that the military is deploying troops and equipment to help with firefighting efforts.  

The president acknowledged that the Emergencies Ministry does not have sufficient regional capabilities to deal with the kind of natural disaster that happens once in 30 or 40 years.

Emergency officials say Moscow and other regions are suffering the hottest summer since records began 130 years ago.

They have blamed the heat and drought for helping spark forest fires that have burned about 860 square kilometers and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes.

Moscow, Voronezh and Nizny Novgorod are among the worst affected regions.

The head of The National Center For Crisis Situations,  Vladimir Stepanov, told Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Saturday that nearly 240,000 people are battling the wildfires and that 25,000 pieces of equipment are being used throughout the regions, including all of the Emergencies Ministry's airplanes and helicopters.

Weather forecasters do not expect easing of the heat wave until next week.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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