Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the army on Wednesday to fight forest fires that ravage vast areas of Siberia for days, enveloping entire cities of black smoke.
Environmentalists have warned that the magnitude of the flames could accelerate global warming, in addition to any immediate effect on the health of the inhabitants. Acrid smoke has affected not only small towns, but also the main cities of western Siberia and the Altai region.
About three million hectares of land in the center and east of the country were set on fire on Wednesday, authorities said.
“After reviewing a report from the emergency situations minister, Putin instructed the ministry of defence to join the effort to extinguish the fires,”International media told.
Some 2,700 firefighters were already working to tackle the blazes. 10 planes and 10 helicopters had been dispatched to the Krasnoyarsk region, one of the worst affected.
On Wednesday,Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, promised help and insisted the fires represented no “immediate danger” for the population, during a visit to Krasnoyarsk .
“There are objective problems: the issue of distances, hard-to-reach regions and factors specific to this year,” he said.
The head of Russia’s consumer safety watchdog, Anna Popova, meanwhile said the black smoke did not pose “major risks” to people’s health.
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