Russians Escape Moscow’s Dense Smoke Cloud

07.08.2010 - Moscú - Pía Figueroa

The number of fires has multiplied in the last twenty-four hours in the Moscow region. Faced with the magnitude of this disaster, the Vice Minister for Emergency Situations, Alexander Chuprian, announced that fire-fighters have been fighting the fires “24 hours a day” since Saturday.

A thousand additional fire-fighters have been sent to the capital region, where fires are causing a layer of smoke to cover Moscow and reduce visibility enormously.

The smoke has managed to slip under doors and seep into Muscovite homes and offices, and even into the Moscow underground, one of the deepest built and most efficient transport systems in the world. In Moscow, the level of carbon monoxide is 6.6 times higher than the international alarm threshold.

Those who can, are trying to abandon the city, hurrying to airports, whose functioning has also been disrupted by the smoke *“It’s hell, all flights are delayed or cancelled, there are thousands of passengers waiting in an asphyxiating heat and in the smoke; and the air conditioning has stopped working”* said a passenger over the phone, waiting for his flight in Domodedovo airport, south Moscow.

Rosaviatsia airline pointed out that, effectively, ten or so of flights had been delayed or cancelled in Domodedovo and Vnukovo (southeast Moscow) airport. According to Russian meteorologists, the smoke will not dissipate before next Wednesday.

Around 7.000 military personnel are fighting the flames alongside tens of thousands of fire-fighters. The authorities verified this week that two military bases in the Moscow region were also in flames on 29th July.

The Minister for Emergency Situations indicated that the fires were continuing to spread to the west of the country and that the meteorologists had not forecast any improvements for the next few days.

This Saturday, 193.500 hectares were burning. According to the official count, 52 have died in the fires, which destroyed entire villages. The Russian President Dimitri Medvedev, withdrew 350.000 roubles (some 11.750 dollars) from his personal account to help victims of the fire.

Germany closed its embassy until further notice: and has asked its citizens to abstain from all non-essential trips to the affected zone. For its part, the Department of State of the United States asked its citizens to revise their plans for journeys to Russia.

Categories: Ecology and Environment, Europe


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