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One Dead, Dozens Evacuated As Forest Fires Sweep Through Central Russia


Some 6,800 people and dozens of aircraft are trying to contain the fires across Russia. (file photo)
Some 6,800 people and dozens of aircraft are trying to contain the fires across Russia. (file photo)

Hundreds of residents of Russia's central Chelyabinsk region were evacuated and one resident was killed on July 10 as forest fires continued to ravage the country.

Five separate blazes in the Chelyabinsk region were estimated to have spread across 20 hectares, while 14,000 hectares overall, an area about the size of Kuwait, have been affected.

Russian officials were quoted as saying the fires were moving at more than 150 meters per minute, complicating efforts to put them out.

Two towns, Dzhabyk and Zapasnoye, were engulfed by flames, resulting in the destruction of nearly 50 homes.

One elderly man who refused to evacuate was reportedly found dead, and 18 people were treated for injuries. Nearly 180 people were evacuated to temporary shelters.

Water-carrying aircraft were deployed to help fight the fires and officials said most of the blazes were contained.

Officials were expecting calmer winds and rainfall to help stabilize the situation in the Chelyabinsk region, where a state of emergency has been declared.

Wildfires have scorched huge swaths of eastern Russia in recent days, with Siberia's Yakutia region hit hardest.

The region's forest protection agency said on July 9 that around 160 forest fires covering an area of 4,400 square kilometers were burning.

Due to the isolation of the vast region, there are no threats to settlements and economic facilities, the forestry service said.

According to Greenpeace, climate change is aggravating Russia's vulnerability to forest fires, contributing to heat waves, thunderstorms, and droughts.

However, most of the fires are caused by people, the environmental group said.

With reporting by Reuters, TASS, and dpa
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