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NASA satellites detect 178 wildfire hotspots in Russia

RIA Novosti

02:04 23/08/2010 MOSCOW, August 22 (RIA Novosti) - Two NASA satellites registered a total of 178 potential wildfires on the Russian territory on Sunday, up 59 from Saturday, the ScanEx website that receives information from the satellites said.

The number of wildfires, which stood at 400-500 in early August, has been gradually decreasing amid a cold spell and reached 66 on Friday. However, it started growing again over the weekend.

Siberia's Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) was the worst affected region, with 76 wildfire hotspots registered. It is followed by the Rostov Region in southern Russia and the Sverdlovsk Region in the Urals, where 13 and 11 hotspots were detected, respectively.

Hundreds of wildfires sparked by a record-breaking heat wave have been burning across central Russia for the past four weeks, causing some 12 billion rubles ($394 million) in damage, according to the emergencies ministry.

A total of 50 people were killed in the fires. Over 2,500 houses in 150 villages and towns were destroyed, leaving over 3,500 people homeless.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier on Friday that the government has managed to overcome the wildfire crisis and has valuable lessons to learn from the experience.

The president has lifted the state of emergency in six of the seven Russian regions hit hardest by the worst wildfires in decades.

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