Moscow smog causes 700 deaths daily

Photo gallery: Wildfires rage across Russia.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
August 9, 2010 13:23
1 minute read.

russia fire 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

MOSCOW — An average 700 a people a day were dying in Moscow Monday amid a sweltering heat wave and poisonous smog from wildfires, a top Russian health official said Monday.

Moscow health chief Andrei Seltsovky blamed weeks of unprecedented heat and suffocating smog for the rise in mortality compared to the same time last year, Russian news agencies reported. He said city morgues are nearly overflowing, with 1,300 bodies, close to their capacity.

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Acrid smog blanketed Moscow for a six straight day Monday, with concentrations of carbon monoxide and other poisonous substances two or three times higher than what is considered safe. Those airborne pollutants reached a record over the weekend — exceeding the safe limit by nearly seven times.

About 550 separate blazes were burning nationwide Monday, mainly across western Russia, including about 40 around Moscow, according to the Emergencies Ministry. Forest and peat bog fires have been triggered by the most intense heat wave experienced in 130 years.

Alexander Frolov, head of the Russian weather service, said judging by historic documents, this heat wave could be unprecedented over a much longer period — up to 1,000 years.


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