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Russia expands state of emergency over wildfires in Far East

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Russia has extended a state of emergency declaration in northeast Siberia as wildfires continue to rage across the region.

Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev expanded the measure to the Yakutia region in Russia”s Far East on Friday.

The move should help organise the transfer of firefighting resources from other regions to help fight the blazes in Russia’s largest territory.

The Sakha Republic has faced a spell of particularly devastating wildfires this year following months of hot and dry weather featuring record-breaking temperatures.

On Friday, officials reported at least 117 active forest fires burning across nearly 1.4 million hectares in the area. Throughout the country, 9,900 people are involved in extinguishing the fires.

Smoke from burning forests has enveloped wide areas and forced the airport in the regional capital of Yakutsk to briefly suspend operations on Thursday.

The city is often described as the coldest on Earth, but in recent years, Russia has recorded high temperatures that many scientists regard as a result of climate change.

The hot weather coupled with the neglect of fire safety rules has caused a growing number of fires.

Experts blame the worsening situation with fires on a 2007 decision to disband a federal aviation network tasked to spot and combat fires and turn its assets to regional authorities.

The forests that cover huge areas of Russia make spotting new fires a challenge, and the much-criticised transfer led to the force’s rapid decline.

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