Russia: Heat Wave Kills 71 in 24 hours, Worst Drought in 130 Years
In the last twenty-four hours, seventy-one people have died in Russia as a result of the heat. The record temperatures felt across the country, but mainly in Moscow, have caused people to take risks swimming in unfamiliar environments. So far in July, 1,244 people have died, almost three hundred of these last week as the country faces its worst drought in 130 years.
The deaths have all occurred as a result of drowning, when people tried to escape the heat wave by swimming in water tanks, waterways and rivers. According to the Ministry of Emergency Situations, just in the last 24 hours, seventy-one persons have drowned in all the territory of the Russian Federation.
This figure is part of a total of 1,244 deaths by drowning in the month of July, around 300 of which perished last week, as temperatures reached near-historic record levels of 36.5 degrees Celsius, while around 2,500 people have died since the beginning of the year in water-related incidents, according to the same source.
Last week a further 178 people were rescued by the emergency services and yesterday, apart from the 71 deaths, there were also 20 rescued.
Worst drought in 130 years
Up to twenty per cent of Russia’s grain production has been destroyed in the worst drought for one hundred and thirty years, according to the Agriculture Ministry. 9.6 million hectares of grain-fields have been destroyed or severely damaged and a drought emergency has been declared in 19 regions.
The record temperatures are expected to continue for the following week at least, according to meteorologists.
The Russian Government is currently providing measures to help those affected. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is handing out loans, subsidies and has inaugurated reduced prices on fuel for farmers. Meanwhile it has been declared that bread prices will not be affected since sufficient stocks were built up to handle this crisis.
Taxi drivers raking in a profit
Not everyone is having a hard time though in Moscow due to the heat. Some of the city’s taxi drivers are making a fortune, by adding an extra charge for air conditioning, according to reports quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda, although there is nothing in the legislation to justify this.