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Three million people are still homeless as a result of the earthquake in Kashmir (AFP) 26 December 2005 -- President Vladimir Putin today pledged that Russia will continue to aid disaster relief operations worldwide but lamented the high number of fires and other emergencies within his own country.


Putin made his remarks to officers of the Emergency Situations Ministry, which is considered one of the most effective in the government. It provided aid to victims of last year's Asian tsunami and after October's massive earthquake in Pakistan- and Indian-held Kashmir.


Putin praised the ministry's responses to disasters but said Russia still has too many accidental fires. Earlier this month, the ministry reported that more than 15,000 people had died in residential fires in 2005.


That number of deaths is roughly 10 times the U.S. rate.


(AP)

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