Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Iraq: Kurdish forces fight to protect Yazidis

Read more

DEBATE

Libya unrest: National Assembly asks for UN help to dissolve militias

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government?

Read more

  • France’s Hollande says global security ‘worst since 2001’

    Read more

  • France urges Iran, others in region, to join fight against IS

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • Ex-PM Juppé announces bid for 2017 French presidential race

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Video: Dozens arrested despite smaller protests in Ferguson

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Deadly airstrikes hit Gaza as ceasefire with Israel collapses

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

  • Video: Life in under-siege Donetsk

    Read more

  • Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

    Read more

  • ‘Let it be’: Londoners sick of Abbey Road tourists

    Read more

Europe

First planeloads of US aid to combat wildfires arrive in Moscow

Video by Catherine VIETTE

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-08-15

The first planeloads of US logistical support for beating back widespread Russian wildfires arrived at Moscow airport early on Saturday as officials said the fires had shrunk to roughly a quarter of the size they were a week ago.

AFP - The first planeloads of US aid for the Russian wildfire tragedy arrived in Moscow on Saturday as officials said a fire raging close to a top nuclear facility did not risk causing an atomic catastrophe.
   
Officials said that nationwide the area alight with fires was almost a quarter that of a week ago, although there appeared to be little progress in reducing the size of the blaze close to Russia's main nuclear research centre in Sarov.
   
Two US Air Force C-130 planes carrying aid for Russia touched down early Saturday at a Moscow airport, followed by a charter flight from California ordered by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, state television and the foreign ministry said.
   
Two additional C-130 flights were expected in the "next days", the Russian foreign ministry said. Another charter was also due in the coming week.
   
"We will always remember this gesture, this arm that was extended to us at a very difficult time," the deputy head of the international department of the Russian emergencies ministry, Valery Shuikov, said at the Vnukovo airport.
   
According to the US State Department, the total value of the support from Russia's Cold War-era ex-foe is around 4.5 million dollars.
   
The emergencies ministry said there were still 480 fires in Russia covering an area of 56,000 hectares (138,500 acres), a quarter of the area of almost 200,000 hectares (495,000 acres) reported at the peak of the crisis and down around 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) from Friday.
   
"At the current moment the situation with the wildfires has improved considerably," said Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu in a statement on the ministry's website.
   
"The weather has not helped us. Everything has been done by the emergency services, the interior ministry, the defence ministry and volunteers."
   
Along with Sarov, fires have also raged close to another research centre in the town of Snezhensk and the Mayak nuclear reprocessing site, both in the Urals, but the authorities appear to have controlled those fires.
   
"There are no threats from the forest fires to potentially dangerous sites. Potentially dangerous sites are reliably protected," said Shoigu.
   
The head of Russia's Rosatom nuclear agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, told reporters that the fire that has been menacing the Sarov centre, 500 kilometres (310 miles) east of Moscow, for the past two weeks does not risk causing a nuclear disaster.
   
"We can say today for sure that there is no nuclear risk, no radioactive threat and that there is not even an ecological threat on Sarov territory," Kiriyenko told Russian media.
   
"We pushed back an attack from the west side two weeks ago. Now the fire is coming from the east... and it continues to burn. Nevertheless, the situation on the eastern side has ceased to be critical," he said.
   
Kiriyenko said radioactive and explosive materials had been removed a second time from the Sarov centre because of the threat of the flames, which  approached the perimetre of the installation on Friday before being brought turned back.
   
The Mordovia region emergencies ministry said the fire in a neighbouring nature reserve that threatens Sarov, a town still closed to foreigners as in Soviet times, covers 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) and is still not under control.
   
Thousands of firefighters have been sent to the reserve to put out the flames.
   
Kiriyenko said that if the winds shift the Sarov centre could come under threat once again from the fires in the nature reserve.
   
"Until (the fires are) put out there, Sarov remains at risk," he said.
   
The fires have been sparked by the worst heatwave in Russia's history, which destroyed one-quarter of its crops and last week blanketed Moscow in a toxic smog that has raised major concern for public health.
   
There have also been fears the fires could stir up particles on land in western Russia still contaminated by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster but officials have said radiation is normal throughout the country.

 

Date created : 2010-08-14

  • RUSSIA

    Firefighters battle blaze near main nuclear research site

    Read more

  • RUSSIA

    Medvedev declares state of emergency in fight against wildfires

    Read more

  • RUSSIA

    Moscow blanketed in thick smoke as wildfires spread

    Read more

COMMENT(S)