Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered firefighters to do more to quell an early onset of uncontrolled wildfires raging in eastern Siberia.
"I am asking you to work hard on dealing with the situation in Siberia and in the Far East...bearing in mind that the season of risk for fires has essentially not even begun in the country," he said, addressing Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov on May 11 through a televised linkup from Sochi.
Putin said priority "should be given to assistance to people who have been left without housing."
The head of the national center coordinating the firefighting operations, Viktor Yatsutsenko, told Putin that no one has been killed by the fires, and although four villages have been damaged or destroyed, more than 70 others have been protected.
He said thousands of firefighters and dozens of aircraft are working to control the more than 116 fires burning across Siberia and the Far East.
He said the situation was especially serious in the Amur region, the Trans-Baikal territory, and Buryatia. Orthodox churches in the Amur region are holding special services to pray for heavy rains.