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Russia: Fires Leave Moscow Covered In Smoke

Moscow, 5 September 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Some of the worst peat-bog and forest fires in 30 years have left Moscow shrouded in a thick blanket of smoke today. So thick is the smoke, that one of the landmarks of the Russian capital, the Kremlin, was not visible from a few hundred meters away.

The city's mayor, Yurii Luzhkov, told Muscovites not to panic. Authorities have urged people with respiratory problems to stay inside and breathe through soaked rags.

Some 2,000 firemen have been dispatched to battle the blazes. A state of emergency has been declared in about a dozen regions around the city. The fires have been burning for weeks around Moscow. Many are smouldering in peat bogs. Efforts to put out the fires are complicated by ongoing dry weather. Meteorologists are not predicting rain until the middle of the month.