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Shoigu indignant over Bratsk situation, additionl forces sent there

September 30, 2011, 16:00 UTC+3

Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu harshly criticized the authorities of Bratsk (the Irkutsk Region)

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MOSCOW, September 30 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu harshly criticized the authorities of Bratsk (the Irkutsk Region), which is in smoke for more than one day from a wildfire raging in the city area.

At the video conference, the minister demanded to completely extinguish the blaze within the day.

"If each of you had taken a watering can and water a piece of the forest, there would be no need today to hear you," Shoigu said, after hearing a report of a representative of the operational group dealing with Bratsk fires.

The minister noted that it was not a fire on tops of trees. There are no burning forests on hundreds of hectares. Five hectares of grass are smoldering in the central part of the city, in a park. And the entire city with the mayor and the garrison of firemen talk that they cannot stamp out the fire since the beginning of this week. "The size of you footwear allows stamping out everything in a day," he said with indignation.

Shoigu said that Bratsk residents called the Emergencies Ministry (Moscow). "You have staged a performance for the entire country. You have made the city of Bratsk famous all over the country for your inability to cope with simple things," the minister stated, addressing regional leaders.

"It is shame for Bratsk and the Irkutsk Region, for the helplessness and inaction there. It is surprising, just surprising," Shoigu added.

The minister demanded to extinguish everything within the day. If necessary, fire teams from Irkutsk and Angarsk must be brought in. He also demanded to give him the names of those responsible for the "disorder".

There are four fire sites smoldering in the forest park zone in Bratsk. They are localized.

The head of the Emergencies Ministry's national crisis management centre, Vladimir Stepanov, explained that the situation in Bratsk became possible due to the wrong assessment. The fires are not extinguished because the mobilized forces were not sufficient.

The strength is already increased twice. Aircraft are used, and aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry's Siberian regional centre are in reserve.

Fifty three specialists have been sent from the Irkutsk regional forest guard air base and 23 from the fire chemical station of neighbouring regions to help Bratsk firefighters, the press service of the region's governor and government told Itar-Tass.

The operation is complicated since the fire on grass and stumps in the park is located 1,000 and more metres away from access roads, the press service cited deputy government head of the region Vladimir Pashkov as saying at the site.

Due to the smoke, flights of aircraft to determine the edge lines of fire areas are impossible. The Eastern Siberian Railroad section is examined to bring heavy machines to the smoldering sites. A team of railroad workers is already working there.

According to the regional Health Ministry, the number of cases when Bratsk residents come to hospitals for medical aid has increased 20 percent and the number of calls to the first aid service has increased 30 percent.

All the polyclinics in the city will work on the weekend. People ill with asthma are under special control. Doctors will give checkups to 2,300 children registered as asthma sufferers.

The Emergencies Ministry's Irkutsk regional department told Itar-Tass earlier in the day that 471 people with the use of 46 vehicles were fighting the fires in the Bratsk forest.

The city's firefighting services have been mobilized, and ten organisations that have appropriate equipment, police and volunteers, local residents, participate in the work.

The Bratsk administration reported there were 12 outbreaks in the forest. Three of them were localized on Thursday.

The weather conditions remain adverse. The weather is dry, and there is no wind to remove the smoke. Protective masks are given to schoolchildren and children in kindergartens in the city.

In connection with the deterioration of the situation and the hard conditions for residents, a state of emergency was imposed in the municipal area at 09:00 on Friday to ensure safety of people and reduce damage.

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