The United States is sending firefighting equipment to Russia to help deal with 500 wildfires burning across the country, one of which threatens a nuclear base, reports mail online.
The blazes have been sparked by the hottest summer ever recorded in Russia, which has seen the death rate in Moscow alone double to 700 a day.
President Obama has called Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to express his condolences, and the White House said agencies including the Defence Department
were airlifting firefighting gear to Russia.
Russia admitted yesterday that fires closing in on its main nuclear centre represent ‘a certain danger’ to the secret town which houses its most sophisticated research laboratories.
A huge round-the-clock operation is under way to prevent a vast blaze on a nearby nature reserve reaching Sarov, which is so sensitive that it is closed to all foreigners.
The fire was caused by lightning striking a pine tree. Some 3,500 firemen and 200 pieces of equipment, including two trains, and a number of planes and helicopters are involved in the military-style operation 300 miles east of Moscow.
When the town – home of the Russian atomic bomb – was first threatened a week ago, some nuclear material was moved out for safe keeping.
BDST: 1011 HRS, August 14, 2010