Russian forest fires kill at least five
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin travelled Friday to regions affected by forest fires, in which at least five people have been killed and dozens more injured, DPA reported.
Hundreds of houses have gone up in flames and thousands of people have lost their homes. Putin travelled to the Nishni Novgorod region, around 400 kilometres east of Moscow, where fires have been particularly bad.
July has been the hottest month on record in 130 years, with temperatures in the range of 39 degrees Celsius. Russian firefighters have blamed a lack of rain for the spread of the forest fires.
Over 800 houses in the region are estimated to have burnt down. Many people have been injured in the fires or suffered from smoke inhalation.
Forest fires also destroyed dozens of buildings in Moscow suburbs.
President Dmitry Medvedev ordered extra firefighting units to be mobilized. Those injured or homeless must also be helped, his spokeswoman said.
In the region around the city of Voronezh, 470 kilometres south of Moscow, several hospitals and holiday resorts had to be evacuated, Russian news agencies reported.
Helicopters and planes had been used to help put the fires out. The drought has also destroyed a large part of the harvest.
The government has said the damage could cost billions.