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It's not getting better... Siberia remains worst-hit as 175,000 firefighters battle forest blazes

By The Siberian Times reporter
04 August 2012

New statistics on Saturday showed the vast scale of the human effort in Russia to halt a natural disaster that has destroyed swathes of woodland and taiga.

Space image of the wildfires over the Republic of Sakha, Yakutia. Picture: Lynn Jener, NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre

Across the country, a total of 174,720 people including trained firemen and volunteers are deployed along with more than 39,000 appliances.  

Officials say Siberian regions remain the most at risk of existing and new fires.

Weeks of hot weather has contributed to hundreds of blazes but finally rain is giving a respite in some areas, especially in the Far East. 

The Emergencies Ministry said a total of 89 aircraft have been deployed in tackling the natural disaster. 

'All in all, they made 298 flights and dropped over 7,400 tons of water,' said a spokesman. 

Among the aircraft deployed are Ilyushin Il-76s, Beriyev Be-200ChS amphibious jets, Antonov An-24s and Mil Mi-26 and Mi-8 helicopters. 

Tomsk region - badly hit in July - remains a problem in early August with 31 fires covering more than 7,600 hectares.

The vast Krasnoyarsk region still has 56 fires on an area of 5,000 hectares, with smoke causing visibility hazards for shipping on the Yenisei River. 

Tuva, Khakassia and Irkutsk regions are among the others to suffer.

The situation remains less critical than 2010 when he worst drought on record sparked fires that killed dozens of of people. 

Greenpeace has recently criticised the official response to fires, claimed the authorities have failed to learn lessons from previous years.

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