Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Russia combats wildfires in Chernobyl radiation zone

BBC: Russia is mounting extra patrols to fight wildfires in a region hit by nuclear fallout from Chernobyl, amid fears that radiation could spread. Crews put out several fires in Bryansk, the emergencies ministry said, amid concern that wind or fire could whip up radioactive particles in the soil. Officials say they are assessing the danger and there is no cause for panic.

Fires have swept western Russia for a week, though officials say many are now under control. The area engulfed by fires has halved, they say. An area of 92,000 hectares (350 sq miles) is now on fire, compared to Tuesday's figure of 174,000 hectares, the emergencies ministry said in a statement. Moscow enjoyed clear skies on Wednesday after rains helped cleanse the air after a week of heavy smog.

But more than 600 fires are still burning in different parts of the country, including around the capital, and weather forecasters are warning the smoke could soon return….

Gymnasium of the Palace of Culture, in the ghost city of Pripyat near Chernobyl. Shot by Timm Suess, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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