There have been 397 man-caused and natural disasters in Russia in 2003 which have resulted in 8,608 casualties and 409 deaths. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports this was announced by Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu at a meeting of the State Duma yesterday. He said that floods and fires are currently the most critical problems.
According to the minister, research has shown that 500 Russian cities and several thousand towns and villages are currently in danger of flooding. About 500 thousand square metres of Russian territory experience periodical flooding. He stressed that one particular feature of recent floods is their 'direct link to the unsatisfactory state of land drainage systems in the regions.'
Mr Shoigu said that several steps have been taken to lower the risk of man-caused and natural disasters and lessen the extent of flooding. More than 230 thousand people have been involved in the campaign to prevent flooding in 2003 and anti-flood committees have been formed in every subject of the Russian Federation. The North Caucasus and the Far East still remain the greatest areas of flood concern.
Mr Shoigu also said that the ministry is worried about the provision of fire safety within Russia. Statistics show that the number of fires in Russia has risen by 2% on average every year for the last 5-7 years and the number of deaths has risen each year by 5% on average. 260 thousand fires were registered in 2002, causing the deaths of about 20 thousand people including 750 children.
Following the summit in Riga on November 30, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained how the alliance could respond to Russia's 'new aggression against Ukraine.'