Siberia Wildfires Death Toll At Fifteen

As many as 15 people have now been killed by wildfires in the Russian region of Khakassia in southern Siberia, regional leaders have said.

Wildfires in the Russian region of Khakassia in southern Siberia have killed 15 people and caused damage worth at least $96 million, the region’s leader said on Monday.

In a video link with Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov broadcast on television, Viktor Zimin, head of the Khakassia Republic’s government, said 78 people had also been taken to hospital during several days of fires raging through grasslands in dry and windy weather.

A primary school, other public infrastructure and private homes have been damaged or destroyed and some cattle have been killed, he said, adding that the initial cost of damages was at least five billion roubles (66 million pounds).

Wildfires in Russia often start when locals set grass on fire on rolling fields to clean them up after the winter, a widespread practice criticised by environmentalists as well as state officials.

Wildfires in the hot summer of 2010 caused dozens of deaths in Russia. Some scientists and environmentalists suggest the number of indirect deaths caused by the heat wave and wildfires of five years ago may have been much higher.



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