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Posted Wed Aug 10 2011: from Guardian:
Russian forests burn for second successive year
Only a year ago Russia was overwhelmed by an exceptional heat wave, triggering hundreds of fires that destroyed thousands of hectares of woodland. Burning peat bogs around Moscow stifled the city in a thick cloud of bitter smoke. Now, Russia is burning again. Since the beginning of this year more than 1m hectares of forest have gone up in flames, or are still burning, outstripping the disastrous record of 2010. But the affected areas are more sparsely populated and far fewer people have been evacuated. The far north of Russia is among the areas that have suffered the most. During the last week of July, Arkhangelsk and the Komi republic had temperatures exceeding 35C. More than 80 fire outbreaks were reported..... Greenpeace claims that the government is playing down the situation. "Official reports indicate 93 hectares of land on fire in the Amur area; in fact it is more like 50,000 hectares, as can be seen from satellite images," says an NGO spokesperson. The Russian authorities have not so far asked for outside assistance. More than 5,000 fire-fighters have already been deployed, backed by 800 specialist units, some equipped with aircraft. Current, more favourable, weather conditions may make life easier, with temperatures dropping to more usual levels all over Russia.
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