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article imageSummer heat, poor air quality double death rate in Moscow

By Igor I. Solar     Aug 9, 2010 in World
Moscow - The number of daily deaths has nearly doubled in Moscow during this summer because of record-breaking heat and toxic smog suffocating the Russian capital, health care department authorities said today.
The Moscow region has suffered extremely hot weather and drought for the past weeks with several all-time temperature records broken in June and July with temperatures around and above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
The heat wave has caused wild fires around the Russian capital covering the city with toxic smog which has managed to infiltrate into the Moscow subway tunnels. The smog elevated air pollution to unprecedented levels during the weekend threatening people's health, increasing the death rate to almost double the regular average.
"Usually, 360-380 people die a day, while currently it is about 700," Andrei Seltsovsky from the Moscow Health Department said.
Moscow ambulances are working in what has been described as “war-time conditions”. Unfortunately ambulances are not equipped with an air conditioning system and the temperature inside the emergency vehicles often reaches unbearable levels which cause patients and medical personal acute distress.
"The daily routine is the most severe thing for us. None of the medical stations have drinking water for the emergency team. We buy it ourselves to water down the patients suffering the heat stroke," the doctor told reporters, according to Rianovosti.
The forecast is not promising; meteorologists are saying that heat will continue in Moscow and the smog may not clear sooner than next week.
US Department Travel warning
The US State Department in a warning that runs until September 5 advises Americans to "carefully consider" the risks involved in travel to parts of Russia:
"Forest fires and extreme high temperatures in the Moscow region and surrounding areas of central Russia have produced hazardous levels of air pollution and caused numerous flight delays and cancellations in Moscow," the department said.
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