Saturday, August 14, 2010

Russian Foreign Ministry Thanks U.S. for Assistance in Tackling Raging Wildfires

This photo is from an article in the Washington Post (8-9-10) about 100s of terrible wildfires that have spread across Russia.

Today, the official Russian news agency RIA Novosti (8-14-10), thanked the U.S. for helping Russia battle the blazes:

Russia thanks U.S. for help in smothering wildfires - Foreign Ministry

Russia is grateful to the United States over the assistance in tackling the wildfires raging across the country, Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

On Friday U.S. President Barack Obama made a phone call to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev to express his condolences about the disastrous environmental situation in Central Russia and the readiness to supply firefighting equipment.

"Obama reiterated the U.S. readiness to supply the necessary firefighting equipment and render expert assistance," kremlin.ru official website said.

Later that day the United States sent to Russia two planes with state-of-the-art nonflammable uniform for firefighters, special shoes, helmets and glasses onboard. Additional two aircraft with firefighting equipment are expected to arrive.

The Russian area on fire has decreased by 8,000 hectares and is now 56,200 hectares.

A scorching heat wave has gripped much of European Russia since mid-June, which coupled with the worst drought since the 1970s has made the countryside particularly susceptible to wildfires.

Thousands of emergency workers and military personnel have been working round the clock for almost three weeks to fight fires in 22 Russian regions. The immediate economic cost of the fires has been estimated at $15 billion.

MOSCOW, August 14 (RIA Novosti)

On the same day, RIA Novosti (8-14-10) detailed the nature of U.S. assistance to Russia:

U.S. aids Russia with $4.5 mln of firefighting equipment amid raging wildfires

The United States sends to Russia firefighting equipment worth some $4.5 million to help combating raging wildfires in the country that "is home to nearly one fourth of the world's forests," the U.S. Department of State said.

A scorching heat wave has gripped much of European Russia since mid-June, which coupled with the worst drought since the 1970s has made the countryside particularly susceptible to wildfires.

"The United States today began deliveries of firefighting equipment valued at approximately $2.5 million to bolster Russia's fire suppression efforts. These deliveries will include water tanks, pumps, hand tools, fire-protective clothing, and medical kits," Philip Crowley, department's secretary of state said in a statement.

"The United States also contributed $50,000 to support the operations of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to provide relief items, including blankets, bedding, and food parcels, for victims. The State of California has generously contributed additional supplies of fire-protective clothing. Total overall U.S. support for this effort is estimated to be valued at $4.5 million," he continued.

Foreign countries have sent more than 550 foreign firefighters and 100 units of machinery, including six planes and seven helicopters, to help Russia extinguish wildfires raging across the country due to abnormal heat and drought.

"The United States stands with the people of Russia as they fight to contain the destructive spread of wildfires, which have taken lives and displaced many from their homes. We are taking action to support the heroic efforts of Russian firefighters and emergency responders as they seek to bring these fires under control," Crowley said in his statement.

Thousands of emergency workers, military personnel and volunteers have been working round the clock for over a month to fight fires in 22 Russian regions, which have so far killed more than 50 people and left over 3,500 homeless. The immediate economic cost of the fires has been estimated at $15 billion.

WASHINGTON, August 14 (RIA Novosti)

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