Pristine forests around the world's oldest lake go up in flames.
Baikal inferno. Picture: Chono Erdenebayar
These unnerving images show the scale of destruction from wildfires close to Lake Baikal, the jewel of Siberia. The sky is aglow over the Republic of Buryatia from the uncontrolled burning, the latest outbreaks of fires that have been destroying forests around the world's oldest and deepest lake for a number of weeks.
Locals and tourists could only gaze from beaches beside the lake at the impressive but disturbing images from the flames and smoke.
The shocking scenes came amid a warning from a senior politician that wildfires now pose the greatest threat to the lake, on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which contains 20% of the unfrozen freshwater on the planet.
Mikhail Slipenchuk, deputy head of the Russian parliament's committee on natural resources and ecology, said: 'Fires near the lake's shores actually kill the water arteries, thus damaging the water balance in the lake'.
Pictures from around town of Gremyachinsk, and maps of wildfires around lake Baikal. Pictures: Chono Erdenebayar, Andrey Razyvayev
Some 36 fires are burning over an area of 77,000 hectares, after a hot summer with a lack of rainfall, it was reported.
These pictures were taken by Chono Erdenebayar close to Gremyachinsk, on the shore of Lake Baikal, some 138 km south from Ulan-Ude.
'It feels like doomsday', said one eyewitness.
On the lake's eastern shore, the area is famed for its sunny bays and sandy beaches.
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