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Russia: Doctors Warn Of Epidemics In Far East

Vladivostok, 15 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - Doctors warn of the risk of epidemics in Russia's Far East where an acute energy crisis has left part of the region without light, heat and hot water.

In Vladivostok, residents are without light for up to 18 hours and the water distribution system functions only sporadically. Purifying stations are also on the point of closing and in hospitals and kindergartens, many of which have been forced to close, food is prepared on braziers outside.

Power shortages in Russia's Far East have been worsening for months but the crisis has escalated since the beginning of this month when coal miners stopped supplying power stations in protest over unpaid wages.

Itar-tass said that later today a major electric power station, Partizanskaya, will close down because of lack of coal, while the rest of the power stations in the region had coal reserves for only up to 18 hours.

Hundreds of residents of Vladivostok have been blocking for three days in a row main thoroughfare in the city in protest against their desperate plight.