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Hotline opens in Tuva following paratroopers’ death

June 06, 2012, 23:26 UTC+3

A hotline has been opened in Kyzyl, the capital of Tuva, following the death of nine paratroopers sent to suppress a wild fire

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MOSCOW, June 6 (Itar-Tass) — A hotline has been opened in Kyzyl, the capital of Tuva, following the death of nine paratroopers sent to suppress a wild fire. Psychologists from the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations have started providing aid to the relatives of the dead and injured paratroopers. Psychologists are using the same line to provide information on the recent earthquake that hit Tuva on Wednesday evening. Underground tremors measuring up to 3 points were felt in Kyzyl. No casualties have been reported.

In the meantime, the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations is dispatching two Be-200 aircraft to help fighting fires in Tuva.

“At the request of the Tuva government the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations has decided to send two Be-200 aircraft to Tuva to help fighting a wild fire,” Irina Andrianova, a spokesperson for the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations, told Itar-Tass. They are expected to take off from Krasnoyarsk at 5:30 local time.

Earlier, the press service of the Federal Forestry Agency (Rosselkhoz) reported that a huge forest fire had erupted on an area of 500 hectares in the Barun-Khemchiksky district which later grew into a crown fire. A group of 13 paratroopers from the Tuva air base was called in to suppress it. Four paratroopers have reportedly walked out of the fire area, the other nine have died.

Investigation has been launched into the paratroopers’ death. All of them had undergone training and had professional skills and experience in extinguishing fires. The youngest was 22 years old, the oldest one was 38.

A difficult forest fire situation has developed in Tuva in recent months. A state of emergency was announced in the republic on June 5.

“Strong winds and mountainous conditions are making the situation worse,” the Federal Forestry Agency said.

The crown fire is posing no threat to the population of the Kara-Khol populated area, which is located 20 kilometers away.

The Federal Forestry Agency has sent another 100 paratroopers from its federal reserve to Tuva.

A hot and dry weather with strong squall winds and no rain has set in in Tuva. Fires are raging in impassable mountainous areas at a height of more than 20 kilometers. In these circumstances, the anti-fire service of the Tuva Republic doesn’t have sufficient forces and means to suppress the fires, the press service of the Tuva government cited Sholban Kara-ool, the head of republic, as saying on Wednesday.

Fourteen forest fires are raging on a total area of 4,570 hectares. Only two of them have been localized.

“One hundred seventy-eight people, 27 pieces of fire-fighting equipment and four aircraft are being used to fight the fire,” the Federal Forestry Agency reports.

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