From: Reuters
Published July 26, 2010 06:34 AM

Thick smog from heatwave fires covers Moscow

Muscovites struggled to breathe on Monday and Red Square was blanketed in smoke as a record-setting heatwave that that has already ruined crops caused fires that set the area around the capital ablaze.

The emergency ministry said 34 peat fires and 26 forest fires were blazing on Monday in the area surrounding Moscow, covering 59 hectares (145 acres). Experts warned the air had become dangerous.


State-run RIA news agency said airports serving Moscow, a city of 14 million, had been unaffected by the thick smoke, whose sharp, cinder-filled smell permeated the city and crept into offices, homes and restaurants via windows and doors.

"This is awful. It is going to damage people's health," said telephone engineer Davit Manukov, 25, standing by the Kremlin where black clouds of smoke enveloped its golden onion domes.

The emergency ministry said it was the worst such attack since a smog outbreak in 2002, which was also a result of smoke from fires caused by hot weather.

The Moscow government agency overseeing air pollution, Mosekomonitoring, told Reuters the amount of harmful impurities in Moscow's air exceeded the norm by 5-8 times.

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