Cold snap claims more lives in Eastern Russia and Afghanistan : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Monday, February 5 12:27 AM SGT

Cold snap claims more lives in eastern Russia and Afghanistan

MOSCOW, Feb 4 (AFP) -

Unusually harsh winter weather continued to claim lives in eastern Russia and northern Afghanistan over the weekend with many of the victims being burnt to death by faulty heating devices.

Seven people died in fires sparked as they tried desperately to heat their homes on Saturday in the far-eastern region of Primoriye, fire fighters said.

Temperatures in the regional capital Vladivostok plunged to minus 27 degrees Celcius (minus 17 Fahrenheit) and dropped as low as minus 36 degrees Celcius further north.

Breakdowns in central heating services and electrical generators have left around 10,500 people without any means of warming themselves, local emergency services told ITAR-TASS.

Yevgeny Nazdratenko, the governor of the region lying along Russia's Pacific seaboard, has been blamed by some local deputies for the crisis. The region has been hit by periodic power cuts for much of the winter.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also singled the governor out for criticism last month, in a stinging attack on the authorities' response to the energy crisis.

Nazdratenko was taken to the hospital on Wednesday with heart trouble, which led to accusations he was faking his illness to avoid responsibility for the problems, Interfax reported.

Further north near Yakutsk, where the mercury sank to minus 30 degrees Celcius, 610 residents of a village were evacuated overnight Friday when a fire at an electrical power plant left them without heating.

Regional governors from Krasnoyarsk, Altai, Kemerovo and Tomsk regions are calling for 27 million dollars in government aid to tackle the extreme conditions. However Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu says governors who cannot keep their regions running normally through winter should be sacked.

In Afghanistan, 22 people died from the cold overnight on Friday in make-shift camps in the country's west, the information ministry said. The camps near Herat lacked food and blankets in a region where temperatures drop to minus 25 degrees Celcius.

The cold snap has been particularly hard on livestock in Mongolia, where the UN food and agriculture organisation said 600,000 animals have died so far.

The organisation said three million head, or about 10 percent of Mongolia's livestock, were wiped out last year. About one third of the population make their living raising farm animals.

-- Swissrose (, February 04, 2001

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