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Wildfires raging in Russian Siberia cross into northern China

April 14, 2015, 8:46 UTC+3 CHITA

A total of 1,597 people, including 210 paratroopers are fighting the blaze, assisted by 327 units of hardware

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© Yevgeny Yepachintsev/TASS

CHITA, April 14. /TASS/. Powerful wildfires raging across Russia’s Siberian Trans-Baikal Territory have expanded eightfold over the past 24 hours, crossing the Russian border into Inner Mongolia, northern China, region’s state forestry service reports.

An overnight report of the forestry service says the area of wildfires in the Trans-Baikal Territory has reached 24,000 hectares, adding that up to 2,000 specialists including paratroopers are combatting 86 fires registered in the region.

"Twenty fires covering an area of 1,300 hectares were localized as of 3 am Moscow time," it said. "A total of 1,597 people, including 210 paratroopers are fighting the blaze, assisted by 327 units of hardware," it added.

According to Chinese emergency rescue services, wildfires have hit Argun, Inner Mongolia Province, destroying at least 85 residential and farm buildings, as well as vehicles and other hardware.

The Xinxua News Agency says the economic damage is put at $3.2 million. No casualties have been reported as of yet. More than 660 firefighters are involved in fight against the blaze.

According to meteorologists, dry and windy weather is favourable for the spread of fires. Temperatures in the region are between 18 and 23 degrees Celsius. No rain is expected shortly, while the southern wind has gusts of up to 20 meters per second, which makes the threat of wildfires spreading further very high, leading specialist at the Chita meteorological service, Lyudmila Peskova, said.

Fires in the Trans-Baikal Territory began on March 19, already destroying 145 residential buildings in 19 local settlements, home to more than 400 people.

According to the regional healthcare ministry, three people have been killed, and 14 have sought medical assistance. Seven of them were hospitalized, one of them reported in a grave condition.

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