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Wildfires rage across Yakutia, Siberia, threatening a power plant and disrupting transport

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Wildfires rage across Yakutia, Siberia, threatening a power plant and disrupting transport

Russian planes seeded clouds to bring down rain on huge fires raging in the Siberian region of Yakutia, that in one place spread dangerously close to a hydroelectric power plant.

Fires have flared across Russia amid a heatwave, tearing through over 1.5 million hectares of land in Yakutia, which is the worst-hit region.

Officials told people to stay indoors and to keep windows shut due to the smoke at the weekend.

The regional capital Yakutsk, one of the coldest cities on the planet, was forced to suspend flights at its airport due to bad visibility, and transport on the river Lena that carves through Siberia was also interrupted.

Flames leap up at some trees that are about to be engulfed

Fires flare across Russian forest land annually, but they have become more intense in recent years amid unusually high temperatures across the northern Siberian tundra.

Yakutia is itself in the grips of a heatwave.

In less than two months, fires in the region have spewed out around 150 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent — close to the 2017 annual fossil fuel emissions of Venezuela, according to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), part of an European Union observation programme.

On Monday, a Beriev Be-200 amphibious plane flown in from another Siberian region joined a massive effort to contain the blaze involving more than 2,000 firefighters on the ground.

Firefighters took special care to contain one fire covering 41,300 hectares, it said.

"There's a natural water barrier from the river Vilyuy, but the fire is potentially dangerous for the … Svetlinskaya hydroelectric power station," it said.

Smaller-scale fires have continued to burn in less remote parts of the country.

Reference: Reuters

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