Spring fires raging in forests in eastern Russia are threatening the main Trans-Siberian railway artery that runs across the country, news reports said Monday.
Hundreds of firemen in special water trains were deployed along a 1600-kilometre stretch of the line against fires that already devastated tens of thousands of hectares of woodland, the Itar-Tass news agency said, citing officials in the port of Vladivostok. A state of emergency was declared in parts of the Primorsk region on the Pacific Coast, 7000 kilometres east of Moscow.
More than 2000 firemen, soldiers and emergency workers were mobilized in eastern Russia in recent days at the start of the annual battles with wildfires that are usually caused by lightening or careless picknickers.
In the Khabarovsk region between China and the Pacific 50 villages were in danger from the blazes.
Meanwhile, flooding was reported in many areas around the Siberian cities of Irkutsk and Novosibirsk as rivers swollen by the spring thaw overran their banks.