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Five dead in wind-whipped Siberia fires

Several fires have broken out in southern Siberia, affecting about 200 buildings and causing at least five deaths on Saturday, said local authorities who declared a state of emergency.

Firefighters are seen deployed in Uyar to battle fires that hit the town, in the Krasnoyarsk region on May 7, 2022. – Several fires have broken out in southern Siberia, affecting about 200 buildings and causing at least five deaths, local authorities said on May 7, adding they had placed the area under a state of emergency. (Photo by Handout / Russian Emergencies Ministry / AFP)

Several fires have broken out in southern Siberia, affecting about 200 buildings and causing at least five deaths on Saturday, said local authorities who declared a state of emergency.

The fires in the Krasnoyarsk region spread to some sawmills and a children’s playground, the regional ministry for emergencies said on Telegram.

Regional governor Alexandre Uss said high winds of up to 40 metres per second, had brought down trees and power lines across large swathes of the region, sparking the fires which authorities said 300 firemen backed by 90 vehicles were fighting.

“We have called for help from neighbouring territories but are aware that will in the best case not arrive for some hours,” said Uss, adding temporary shelters were being opened for people in the worst-hit areas with medical and psychological support units also being made available.

“I have given the order to cut off electricity in part of the region — save for survival facilities, service stations, and water supply systems,” he said.

A firefighter works to extinguish a fire in the settlement of Bely Yar in the Krasnoyarsk region on May 7, 2022. – Several fires have broken out in southern Siberia, affecting about 200 buildings and causing at least five deaths, local authorities said on May 7, adding they had placed the area under a state of emergency. (Photo by Handout / Russian Emergencies Ministry / AFP)


“Extinguishing (the fires) is being complicated by meteorological conditions — violent winds are fanning the flames and preventing them from being put out,” the ministry stated.

Siberia has suffered from large-scale fires for some years. Last year, they belched 16 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere, according to an annual European climate report.