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Sun fails to rise on city choked by smoke

Russia is still in throes of a heatwave – but residents of Moscow can’t see the sun.

AS THE WILDFIRES which have killed 48 people and wiped out forests, villages and a military base continued to rage across Russia today, the ten million residents of Moscow were left to suffocate on a thick, black smog.

The smoke – which was blown in from burning peat bogs outside the city by a strong wind – descended from the early morning, stinging the eyes of commuters, and leaving public health officials to warn of the hazards of breathing in carbon monoxide. People were urged to wear face masks if they ventured outside.


Some 400km to the east of the capital, firefighters have turned to the help of robots in the struggle to contain the flames surrounding a top-secret nuclear facility in Sarov.

President Dmitry Medvedev has already fired several high-ranking military officials – including the chief of Russia’s naval aviation – over what he called criminal negligence in allowing fires to ravage a military base. Some reports say up to 200 naval aircraft have been destroyed.

Over the last 24 hours, firefighters have extinguished 293 fires, but another 403 have been spotted – while more than 500 continued to rage over large swathes of countryside.

Temperatures in Moscow and to the south and east are forecast to reach 38 degrees in the coming days.

Sun fails to rise on city choked by smoke
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  • Russia Smog

    Moscow's St. Basil's cathedral, and the Lenin Mausoleum are barely visible through the smog covering Moscow. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
  • Russia Heat

    Local residents look at the heavy smog from peat fires in a forest near the town of Shatura, some 130 km (81 miles) southeast of Moscow. Peat swamps started burning following the unprecedented heat wave and quickly spread. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)
  • moscow 3

    Townspeople and residents of dachas (summer cottages), use scarves to protect themselves from the thick smoke from a forest fire which came very close to their village near the town of Elektrogorsk, some 88 km (54 miles) east of Moscow. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)
  • Russia Fires

    An arch-like fragment of a heating system and the remnants of a chimney are all that is left of a wooden house destroyed by last week's fire is in the village of Kadanok, 90 miles (150 kilometers) southeast of Moscow. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
  • Russia Fires

    A ceramic dog statue that survived last week's fire is seen surrounded by burned-down ruins of the wooden house in the village of Kadanok, 90 miles (150 kilometers) southeast of Moscow. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
  • Russia Paratroopers Day

    Former Russian paratroopers cool off in the fountain, as they celebrate Paratroopers Day in Moscow Gorky Park on Monday, Aug. 2, 2010. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze)
  • Russia Wheat Woes

    A field of faded sunflowers seen in Voronezh region, some 415 km (257 miles) south of Moscow. A severe drought destroyed one-fifth of the wheat crop in Russia, the world's third-largest exporter, and now wildfires are sweeping in.(AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel)
  • Russia Fires

    A cross-like fragment of a metal fence destroyed by last week's fire is in the village of Kadanok, 90 miles (150 kilometers) southeast of Moscow. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

About the author:

Jennifer O'Connell

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