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'The possession of Siberia's natural wealth has become vital in determining Russia’s position in the world'

Heatwave sparks new fears over forest fires

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19 July 2012


Wildfires 2012, Trans Baikal region, Siberia, picture: Alexander Lesnyanskiy

So much so that experts are warning potatoes could cook from their piercing sun while still lying in the soil.

In this period, Novosibirsk was forecast to touch 37C, and Tomsk 36C, around the same as temperatures in Egyptian capital Cairo, though the thermometers did not reach this high on Thursday. 

This follows record highs in June, say weather experts, who are comparing the summer with the heatwave in 1999. 

Temperatures in the first days of July in Novosibirsk were said to be between one and two degrees higher than long-term levels. 

In Omsk, which had several days of unusually hot temperatures, 11 people were reported to have died from the heat. Concern has been expressed over elderly people in the excessive heat. 

Smog is also a problem in some cities from forest fire fumes. 

'We can already see that potato plants are damaged by heat,' said Anna Safronova, of the Siberian Research Institute of Plant Breeding and Selection. 

'It is so hot that we won't be surprised if under the ground there will be roast potatoes.'

'Within the next three days the most dangerous situation is expected in Tomsk, Novosibirsk region and in the south of Omsk region, in the west of Krasnoyarsk region and in Tuva Republic - because of high air temperatures', said one report. 

In the Siberian Federal District, the area of forest fires went down from 8,038 thousand hectares to 5,775 thousand hectares. 'The fires are active in Novosibirsk and Tomsk regions. But in general we say there is positive trend and the situation is getting stable," said a forestry spokesman. 

A state of emergency is still in force in Tomsk region, while it has been withdrawn in Tuva Republic. 

In the Far East the fire fighters within the last 24 hours managed to put out 15 forest fires out of 40. Other 12 fires were localised. 

But in general on whole Russia the number of forest fires is growing, Russian federal forestry reports. Within the last 24 hours it went up from 202 to 229 spots. THe hardest situation is in Urals, Siberia and Far East, the report says. 

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