This Article is From Aug 10, 2010

Moscow smog: 700 deaths a day

Moscow: The death toll triggered by abnormal heat and dense smog caused by forest fires near the Russian capital has almost doubled to about 700 from the 360-380 deaths per day, a senior health official said on Monday.

"Usually, 360-380 deaths take place every day in Moscow, but these the rate has almost doubled to about 700," Chief of Moscow City Health Department Andrei Seltsovsky said.

He denied that it was something unusual as Moscow is undergoing a very long spell of abnormal heat wave with temperatures breaking all time records.

Moscow region has witnessed abnormally hot weather and drought for over a month with two temperature records broken in June and 10 records broken in July, RIA Novosti reported.

The heat has caused peat bogs fires nearby Moscow creating toxic smog throughout the capital and pushed the pollution levels to new highs on Saturday.

Quoting an unnamed medico "Novaya Gazeta" reported that ambulance teams have been told not bring patients to hospitals except in case of extreme urgency as they were overcrowded.

Elderly people and patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases are primarily at risk, the paper said.

Meanwhile, meteorologists have said that it will take at least another week for Moscow to be cleared of the smog.

Russia is undergoing the longest unprecedented heat wave for at least one thousand years, the head of the Russian Meteorological Centre Alexander Frolov today said.

"We have an 'archive' of abnormal weather situations stretching over a thousand years. It is possible to say there was nothing similar to this heat wave on the territory of Russia during the last one thousand years," Frolov told reporters.

He said scientists received information on ancient weather conditions by exploring lake deposits. Frolov also said Russia's grain crop may drop by at least 30 per cent.

Meanwhile, after a slight improvement in visibility on Sunday and today most of stranded passengers on Moscow's two worst smog affected airports - Vnukovo and Domodedovo have left for their destinations, but 22 flights are still behind schedule, civil aviation authority Rosaviatsia said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a state of emergency has been declared in the Ozersk district where the nuclear reprocessing plant Mayak is located.

The emergency has been declared after the neighbouring Urals town has been engulfed in raging forest fires.

"A state of emergency has been introduced in forests and parks on the territory of the Ozersk city district due to a complicated fire hazard situation," an official statement said.