Six people have died as forest and brush fires flared up again in Russia’s southern farmlands, burning down 532 homes and buildings, officials said yesterday.
“The bodies of six people were found in the fire, but this is preliminary information,” Mikhail Murzayev, the head of the investigative committee in the Volgograd region, told the RIA Novosti news agency.
Strong winds stoked fires that destroyed 532 buildings, including 400 homes, in about 20 villages in the Volgograd and Saratov regions, an emergency ministry spokeswoman said. The Volgograd region lies some 1,000km southeast of Moscow.
“Thousands of people are without shelter,” the spokeswoman, Irina Andrianova, was quoted by the agency as saying.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday ordered authorities to mobilize all means to fight the fires as the emergency ministry warned the fires risked spreading to other southern regions.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin yesterday pledged the two fire-struck regions would receive 1 billion rubles (US$25.4 million) in emergency aid to rebuild after fire storms that have raged for months, the government said in a statement.
A state of emergency was also declared overnight to yesterday in the Urals city of Tolyatti to the east as fires devoured some 200 hectares of forest nearby, Mayor Anatoly Pushkov was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.
Temperatures have fallen in Moscow since an unprecedented heatwave this summer, but in recent days they have still topped 40°C in the southern regions.
Forest fires ravaged about 1 million hectares in Russia in recent months, destroying whole villages and leaving more than 50 people dead, according to official tallies. Fires also threatened to engulf several nuclear plants.
An emergency alert was lifted on Aug. 23 in the last of the seven regions affected by the fires.
A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific might seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic, but residents on Palau said that life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica. A dot in the ocean hundreds of kilometers from its nearest neighbors, Palau is surrounded by the vast Pacific Ocean, which has acted as a buffer against the
Dutch scientists have found the coronavirus in a city’s wastewater before COVID-19 cases were reported, demonstrating a novel early warning system for the disease. SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — is often excreted in an infected person’s stool. Although it is unlikely that sewage will become an important route of transmission, the pathogen’s increasing circulation in communities would increase the amount of it flowing into sewer systems, Gertjan Medema and colleagues at the KWR Water Research Institute in Nieuwegein said on Monday. They detected genetic material from the coronavirus at a wastewater treatment plant in Amersfoort on March 5, before
TRUE TOLL? Some Chinese are skeptical about official data, particularly given the overwhelmed medical system and initial attempts to cover up the outbreak The long lines and stacks of urns greeting family members of the dead at funeral homes in Wuhan, China, are spurring questions about the true scale of casualties at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, renewing pressure on a Chinese government struggling to control its containment narrative. The families of those who succumbed to the coronavirus in the city, where the disease first emerged, were allowed to pick up their cremated ashes at eight funeral homes last week. As they did, photographs circulated on Chinese social media of thousands of urns being ferried in. Outside one funeral home, trucks shipped in about 2,500
KEEN INTEREST: India is trying to procure medical gear from domestic producers and abroad, and China has emerged as a possible supplier as its factories reopen India is to buy ventilators and masks from China to help it deal with COVID-19, a government official said yesterday, even though some countries in Europe had complained about the quality of the equipment. India has recorded 1,251 cases of the coronavirus, with 32 deaths, but health experts said the country of 1.3 billion people could see a major surge in cases that could overwhelm its weak public health system. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government said that it was trying to procure medical gear, including masks and body coveralls, both from domestic firms and from countries such as South Korea and