1 Aug 2010

Deadly wildfires sweep across Russia

3:13 pm on 1 August 2010

Up to 30 people have been killed in wildfires in Russia that have destroyed several villages, swept through forests and forced thousands from their homes.

The Russian government says it has mobilised almost 240,000 people across the country to fight the blazes.

The military has pooled resources with firefighters and the emergencies ministry said 25,000 engines were being used, the BBC reports.

Firefighters are battling blazes in 14 of Russia's 83 regions, and many thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes.

Many areas of Russia have been sweltering under a heat wave. On Thursday, temperatures reached a record 39C in the capital, Moscow.

It's estimated that a fifth of the country's wheat crop has died due to lack of rain in what is thought to be the country's worst drought for more than a century.