Fires brought under control in southern Russia
Downpours of rain and a let-up in the wind helped ease the situation in areas of southern Russia affected by a new flare-up in wildfires, officials said Saturday.
The Civil Defence Ministry said the total area affected by the fires had declined from 866 hectares to 139 hectares after the change of weather, the news agency Ria Novosty reported.
However, thousands of firefighters were still battling to control blazes in four parts of the Volgograd region where a state of emergency was declared on Friday.
No new new fires were reported in the Moscow region where peat fires in early August saw large parts of the capital shrouded in a cloak of thick smoke.
The latest outbreak left at least eight people dead and around 30 injured.
Some 800 buildings were destroyed, including about 500 apartment buildings. Many villages had to be evacuated.
Russian prosecutors launched several arson investigations, while Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promised rapid financial aid to all those affected.
President Dmitry Medvedev late last month had lifted a state of emergency affecting much of Russia, after the worst wildfires in the country's history were extinguished. They had killed more than 60 people and left thousands homeless.