Russia | At least 10 dead in Siberian fires

(Moscow) Many fires, made worse by high winds, are afoot in eastern Siberia, with hundreds of buildings burned and a dozen killed, local authorities said on Saturday.

Updated May 7th

More than 450 houses were hit in the Krasnoyarsk region and at least five people died, local authorities said. There are at least 17 injured, including ten in hospital. A state of emergency has been declared in the region.

In Kemerovo Oblast, three people were found dead in a burned-out house and a criminal investigation was launched. In the Omsk region there are two dead and eight wounded.

“Extinguishing is complicated by weather conditions – strong winds accelerate the spread of fires and make it difficult to stop them,” said the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Krasnoyarsk Territory. Fighting the flames can only be done on land due to the wind, without resorting to aviation.


PHOTO RUSSIAN MINISTRY OF EMERGENCIES VIA AFP

After an emergency meeting in the afternoon, the region’s governor, Alexandre Ouss, said in a statement that the fires had been caused by winds reaching 40 meters per second in some regions, versus 25 m/s that had been planned.

This wind would have caused “falling trees, overlapping and falling power lines,” after which “fires broke out simultaneously in many areas of the Krasnoyarsk Territory.”

“We have asked our neighboring areas for help, but we are aware that this will only happen for a few hours at best,” Ouss said.

“I gave the order to shut off electricity in part of the region’s territory, except for survival facilities, gas stations and water supply systems,” he said.


PHOTO RUSSIAN MINISTRY OF EMERGENCIES VIA AFP

In the hardest-hit areas, “temporary shelters will be opened and people will receive medical and psychological assistance.”

The meteorological institute “Rosguidromet” has extended the forecast of strong winds for tomorrow to 20-25 m/s and even up to 30 m/s in the mountains. But the risk of fire will gradually decrease as the temperature cools down,” institute director Roman Vilfand told TASS.

“Such fires are rare in May. But it turned out that there was no precipitation for a long time, there were fires and a strong wind,” he added, specifying that the fires were of human origin.

Unprecedented fires have been ravaging Siberia for several years.

In 2021, fires, particularly in eastern Siberia, released 16 million tons of carbon (4thand highest volume since measurements began in 2003), according to the annual European climate report.

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