The patriarch of Moscow and All Russia has asked Russians to pray for rain as forest fires spread fast in Russia's European region, killing at least 28 people in recent days.
The fires come as Russia is experiencing its worst drought in over 100 years.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill was quoted by state media as asking for "everyone to unite in a prayer for rain to descend on our earth," because "human lives have been lost, hundreds have lost shelter and thousands have been left without sustenance, including many children."
Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry today said 774 fires had so far been registered, and a regional forestry department reported that the fires now cover some 100,00 hectares in extent.
Over 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has called an emergency meeting on August 2 with the governors of the regions devastated by the fires.
Some 4,000 soldiers have been called in to help fight fires in the Moscow region.
compiled from agency reports