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Russia extends state of emergency over wildfires in Siberia

Emergencies minister Yevgeny Zinichev declared the state of emergency for Sakha-Yakutia.

Image: Ivan Nikiforov via PA Images

RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES HAVE expanded a state of emergency in north-east Siberia to bring in outside resources to combat wildfires that have engulfed the vast region.

Emergencies minister Yevgeny Zinichev declared the state of emergency for Sakha-Yakutia.

The move should help organise the transfer of firefighting resources from other regions to help fight the blazes in Yakutia, which is Russia’s largest territory at 762 million acres.

The vast region, also known as Sakha Republic, has faced a spell of particularly devastating wildfires this year following months of hot, dry weather with record-breaking temperatures.

Today, officials reported 117 active forest fires burning across nearly 3.4 million acres in Yakutia.

Smoke from burning forests has enveloped wide areas and forced the airport in the regional capital of Yakutsk to suspend operations yesterday.

Flights resumed today to what is often described as the coldest city on Earth.

In recent years, Russia has recorded high temperatures that many scientists regard as a result of climate change.

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The hot weather coupled with the neglect of fire safety rules has caused a growing number of fires.

Experts blame the worsening situation on a 2007 decision to disband a federal aviation network tasked to spot and combat fires and turn its assets over to regional authorities.

The forests that cover huge areas of Russia make spotting new fires a challenge, and the much-criticised transfer led to the force’s rapid decline.

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