Kazakhstan + 1 more

Kazakh forest fires kill five, advance to Russia

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09 Sep 2010 11:20:33 GMT

Source: Reuters

* Russian, Kazakh leaders say to fight forest fires together

* Russian region imposes state of emergency as fire advances

(Adds presidential talks, state of emergency in Altai)

ALMATY, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Forest fires have killed five people in northern Kazakhstan, the country's Emergencies Ministry said on Thursday, as neighbouring Russia sent aircraft to fight blazes advancing onto its territory.

More than 500 firefighters were trying to contain the fires, which broke out at about noon (0600 GMT) on Wednesday and have already spread into some parts of Russia, the ministry said on its website, www.emer.kz.

Russia's Emergencies Ministry said Kazakh authorities had allowed it to send special aircraft to the neighbouring Central Asian nation to help local firefighters.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held a telephone conversation with his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, on Thursday "to discuss practical steps to fight fires in the two nations' border regions," the Kremlin said.

Three "fire fronts" were advancing towards Russia's Novosibirsk and Altai regions, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said in a statement posted on its website, www.mchs.gov.ru.

Altai Governor Alexander Karlin imposed a state of emergency in his region in a bid to contain the spread of fire from Kazakhstan, which has gutted a local village, left around 1,000 people homeless and is threatening other districts, said the region's website, www.altairegion22.ru.

It said that, due to winds reaching up to 100 km (63 miles) per hour, a wave of the so-called "crown fire", which spreads along treetops had reached Russia from Kazakhstan across a protection furrow ploughed between the two nations.

More than 260 villagers had been evacuated in northern Kazakhstan, the Kazakh Emergencies Ministry said.

In Russia, severe fires caused by an unprecedented heatwave have killed more than 60 people since July. (Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov, Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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