The mortality rate in Moscow has doubled since the outbreak of over 600 fires in that country, as many are staying home to prevent breathing toxic fumes blanketing the city.
Andrei Seltsovsky, the city's health department head told local media in Moscow that the normal Moscow mortality rate of 360 to 380 cases has now climbed to an average of 700 a day. Flights from Moscow's Domodedovo airport are facing delays and cancellations as visibility on the the runways is reportedly as poor as 410 yards.
In a desperate attempt to tackle the immediate threat to public health, the city is opening clinics to assist the ill and elderly to cope with the smog, while Moscow's industries have ben asked to cut emissions from 20 to 40 percent until 3 pm Wednesday.
Russia's emergency ministry report thats 22 of Russia's 83 regions are now battling out of control fires, some within range of Russia nuclear power and reprocessing facilities. While 276 wildfires have been extinguished, 554 wildfires still rage over an area of 730 square miles, much of it peat bogs and heavy forest outside of major population centers in the Western fifth of the country.
US State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley told AFP that an Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance team 'has had their first meetings with Russian fire experts' about the best methods to combat the out of control blazes. Crowley also confirmed that US embassy staff and dependents have asked for authorization to move to a safer location and escape the Moscow smog.
Russia has now entered a seventh week of 100 degree temperatures, which have so far killed 52 people and destroyed 30% of the nation's grain crops, prompting authorities to ban the export of their grain for the year.
"Of course, this is a temporary measure, but we are in an extraordinary situation and we have to worry about our own citizens and our own farmers," Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said. "The question is what the country will be left with in 2011. We don't know what the harvest will be and how much carry-over grain there'll be in 2011."
Alexander Flolov, the head of Russia's meteorological agency, Roshydromet, said that mother nature isn't coming to the rescue anytime soon, either. Meteorologists have no rain forecasted for the next ten days, and agree that temperatures will likely remain at 100 degrees for much of the affected area.
"One can say that neither we nor our ancestors observed or registered anything like it, in terms of heat, within a 1,000-year period since the foundation of our country," he said Monday. "This phenomenon is absolutely unique. There is no record of such cases."