Moscow is suffocating. Thick toxic smog has been covering the sky above the city for days. The sun in Moscow looks like the moon during the day: it's not that bright and yellow, but pale and orange with misty outlines against the smoky sky. Muscovites have to experience both the smog and sweltering heat at once. Today, August 9, the temperature is expected to hit the level of 37-39 degrees above zero Centigrade.
Smog makes many change their lifestyle. Many people spend their time in air-conditioned places: in large shopping malls, in offices or even in cars.
Death rate in Moscow has doubled recently because of the smog as compared to the same time period of the past year, although this information is not official. Smoke exacerbates the ecological situation in other Russian cities too. This morning the smog enveloped St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg.
Meteorologists say that the smog will remain in the city for several days. The wind direction is not going to change until Wednesday. Heavy rainfalls and thunderstorms are expected to occur in the middle of this week, and the ecological situation in the city will most likely improve, Interfax reports.
The head of Russia's EMERCOM Sergey Shoygu said that it could be possible to put the peat fires down in the Moscow region in five-seven days. About 7,000 people and nearly 2,000 units of equipment are currently involved in fire-extinguishing works.
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There is no official information to confirm the increase of the death rate in Moscow against the background of the extreme ecological situation. However, Russian newspapers say that there is every reason to believe that smog kills at least 200 people in the city every day.
Emergency services of the Russian capital report a record increase of calls. The medical personnel was instructed not to hospitalize people, except for extreme cases. Paramedics are having a hard time too because they work very intense hours in the vehicles with no air conditioning systems. Sometimes paramedics need help themselves.
If a patient gets hospitalized, they have to face unbearable conditions there too since most of Russian hospitals are not air conditioned.
An employee of a Moscow morgue said they were usually receiving 20 dead bodies a day, but the number had doubled or even tripled during the recent three or four weeks, The Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper said.
The people having cardiovascular diseases suffer most against the background of the current atmospheric conditions. Some people die as a result of intense physical activities during hot weather. Many prefer not to refuse from their traditional morning session of jogging, which causes more hard than good at the moment.
Specialists say that doctors' masks, which people wear nowadays in the streets of Moscow, do not save from the smog.
The number of car accidents in the city has increased considerably as well due to poor visibility on the roads. This also adds to the general list of the death rate, not to mention those who drowned in rivers and lakes trying to escape summer heat.
Many Muscovites have to change their lifestyle because of the heat and smog. People prefer to spend their time in air-conditioned places, such as shopping malls and offices. Many companies, including Pravda.Ru offer their employees to choose, where it is more comfortable for them to work - either in air conditioned offices, or at home.
Some of those, who do not have air conditioning at their homes, prefer to book air conditioned hotel rooms, where they can spend a night, because sleeping at home has become a torture to many.
If one wants to buy a fan or an air conditioner in a store, they return home disappointed. All major stores selling electronic goods have installed placards saying "Fans out of stock!" or "Air conditioners out of stock!"
Many foreigners cancel their trips to Moscow and other Russian regions because of the heat and fires. The Italian Foreign Ministry has recently officially recommended its citizen not to travel to Russia. Germany temporarily closed its embassy and the consulate department in Moscow. Israel, Austria, Poland and Canada have recalled a part of their diplomatic officials from Moscow during the weekend too.