Russia burns as climate change scorches forest and steppe
Wildfires have scorched a record amount of forest and steppe land in Russia so far this year, an area amounting to half the size of Germany, an environmental organisation says.
Greenpeace says it estimates, based on satellite data, that more than 17.6 million hectares have burned, breaking the previous record of 16 million hectares set in 2016.
More than 250,000 hectares are still burning, Russia’s aerial forest protection agency says.
Greenpeace Russia’s Grigory Kuksin told reporters there was no end in sight to this year’s fire season, which has been fuelled by hot and dry conditions that scientists say is a clear result of climate change.
He said fires were still raging in the grassy fields of Russia’s south, while many of the blazes that had burned across vast stretches of Siberia this summer have been extinguished, in part because snow has started to fall in some place.
The most severely affected area has been the sparsely populated republic of Yakutia in eastern Siberia, more than 4000 kilometres from Moscow.
The fires have been so widespread that even people not directly threatened by the flames have suffered, with hundreds of villages and dozens of towns across Russia engulfed in smoke.
President Vladimir Putin last month described the scale of the natural disaster as unprecedented.