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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Russia battles forest fires amid heat wave

War-time shells exploded and Moscow subway passengers fainted on Wednesday as Russia again sizzled in the summer heat and battled dozens of blazes, officials said. A major fire started in the southern Rostov region on Tuesday causing two days of explosions of World War II-era shells embedded in a local forest, a local spokeswoman for the emergencies ministry said. "They are exploding where battles were fought," spokeswoman Marina Chernyavskaya told AFP.

She said no-one was hurt as a result of the blasts and more than 500 of emergencies personnel were proceeding with plans to put out the fire that now covered 200 hectares. Across Russia, the emergencies ministry used 18 planes and 38 helicopters in an effort to douse a total of 220 wildfires, including 28 major blazes covering nearly 12,000 hectares, a Moscow-based spokeswoman told AFP.

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