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Moscow's Daily Death Rate Doubles Amid Heat Wave, Smog

Many Muscovites have been wearing protective masks
Moscow's top health official has said that the daily mortality rate in the Russian capital has nearly doubled amid a record heat wave, with hundreds of extra deaths each day compared to a normal period.

The comments by Andrei Seltsovsky, head of Moscow's health department, broke days of official silence about the effects of the unprecedented heat wave and smog from wildfires on mortality rates in the city.

Many Moscow residents have taken to wearing protective masks to try to protect themselves from breathing in soot from the polluted air.

Health authorities say 360 to 380 deaths per day is the normal average for this time of year in Moscow. But Seltsovsky said the daily number of deaths is "now...around 700." He added that 1,300 out of 1,500 places in city morgues are now full.

compiled from agency reports