Moscow’s Heat Wave Kills Thousands

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A Russian scientist says several thousand Muscovites died in July alone, due to this summer's unprecedented heat wave. Smog and smoke from wild fires may also have raised the death toll.

Several thousand Muscovites may have died in July alone due to this summer's unprecedented heat wave. That's according to Boris Revich, scientist and researcher at Russia's Academy of Sciences.
He had expected high death rates for July, but says the actual figures exceeded his predictions.

[Boris Revich, Senior Demography Researcher, Academy of Sciences, Russia]:
"We have never had experience estimating such monstrous heat, merely because we have never had such heat before."

Day temperatures in Moscow soared since June, at times nearing 40 degrees Celsius. Revich, citing a report by the Moscow Registry Office, says that almost 6,000 more Muscovites died in July than in the same month last year—a discrepancy he says is due to the heat wave.

The scientist believes, what made this heat particularly troubling for residents was that it was coupled with high levels of air pollution as a result of forest fires. Over 27,000 peat and forest fires have been detected in the country since July, casting a thick blanket of smog over the Russian capital.

Russia is particularly vulnerable to severe hot weather as it is not adequately prepared for intense heat. Moscow's ambulances, maternity houses and hospitals are not air conditioned; neither are specially created social centres opened to provide shelter from the smog.

Even though the heat is now subsiding, the death toll for August due to be released in September, could still be high due to the effect of the smog and smoke.

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