Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Heat wave killing people in Russia.

Muscovites are dying from extreme heat.
by
Dr. Nitish Priyadarshi

A polar bear cub looks at an adult polar bear resting with a bucket on its head in the cooling waters of a pool at the Moscow Zoo, as the city experiences a prolonged heatwave
Picture: AP

Muscovites are dying from extreme heat and smoke faster than their bodies can be stored, cremated or buried, and Russians are worried the death toll could be far higher than the official count.
Morgues are overflowing and one crematorium in the Russian capital is working around the clock in three shifts. In Mitino on Moscow's northwest, a note at a crematorium warned that it was not accepting any new orders for cremation.
The crematorium's four furnaces are currently "processing" 49 bodies per day, with cremations every 20 minutes, according to a timetable available at the reception.
As wildfires and a record-setting heatwave continue to pummel Russia Monday, death rates in Moscow are also rising as residents navigate smoke-laden streets and record temperatures.

Heat stroke and complications from air quality have nearly doubled death rates in Moscow, from about 360 deaths a day to about 700, according to Moscow's health department, The Associated Press reported. Carbon monoxide levels are two to three times higher than the level considered healthy.
Many Russians have taken to wearing facemasks when they leave their homes to protect themselves from the smog.
As some people take to the water to beat the heat, a spate of drownings has added to the skyrocketing death toll. Many of those who drowned were drunk, according to the Emergencies Ministry.
The head of Russia's weather service, Alexander Frolov, said this summer's temperatures could be the hottest in up to a millennium."In 1,000 years, neither we nor our ancestors have observed or recorded anything like this sort of heat," he said in televised comments, reported Bloomberg News. About 52 people have been killed by the fires since they began in late July.


A satellite image released by NASA Monday showed large swaths of the region surrounding and south of Moscow experiencing land surface temperatures up to 12 degrees Celsius higher than average temperatures for the same dates between 2000 and 2008.


This NASA image from Saturday shows the coverage of the smoke around the city that's forced airports to delay flights. The red outlines indicate fires that were still burning.

The acrid smog from the fires burning in the countryside dozens of kilometres outside the city is seeping into apartments, offices and even underground into the Moscow metro, forcing Russians to flee the city.

RUSSIAN officials declared a state of emergency as raging wildfires threatened to engulf a major nuclear plant.
It came as leaders were accused of covering up hundreds of deaths from poisonous smog and the country's worst ever heatwave.
Last night the blazes threatened to spread to the Mayak reprocessing plant, in Ozersk in the Urals.
A local official said: "A state of emergency has been introduced in forests and parks due to a complicated fire hazard situation."
The peat bog fires have already threatened the nuclear research city of Sarov.
A record 50 days without rain and heat hitting 38°C (100°F), sparked fires across Russia.

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