Arctic air masses cover Karelia

About 6,500 people in Karelia, Russia's republic that borders on Finland, were left without heat; three districts have declared an emergency situation, reported the press service of the autonomy's government.

Electricity supply networks in several populated areas broke down on the night of January 1st because of severe frost /about 45C below zero/. Boiler houses ended up out of order, leaving 264 buildings without heat and hot water. Their inhabitants are now being moved to warmer places.

During the New Year holidays, 66 frostbitten people sought medical help. 55 were hospitalized.

The breakdown is being fixed by repair teams made up of workers of housing and utilities complex and emergencies ministry officials.

Repairs, however, are impeded by the frost: even though the epicenter of the cold moved to the Pudozh district in the southeastern part of Karelia, the average air temperature in the republic and its capital Petrozavodsk is barely higher than 30C below zero.

The cold has also choked local gas pipelines, cutting short gas supplies to dwelling houses. As a result, 155 houses in Petrozavodsk, neighboring villages and several towns were left without gas.

Repair works are being financed by the republican reserve. Besides, the republic's leader Sergei Katanandov has asked Russian Premier Mikhail Kasyanov to allocate extra funds from the federal budget to liquidate the emergency.