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Situation with forest fires in Siberia begins to spiral out of control

July 30, 2012, 13:52 UTC+3
Experts believe that the “battle for the harvest” this year will be lost. And Russians have to prepare for a jump in food prices
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MOSCOW, July 30 (Itar-Tass) —The Siberian territory affected by forest fires over the past weekend increased by one-third, from 18,000 to 26,600 hectares. According to experts, officials are hiding the real scale of the fires. Meanwhile, the summer heat has already destroyed six percent of grain crops. Experts believe that the “battle for the harvest” this year will be lost. And Russians have to prepare for a jump in food prices.

The situation with forest fires in Siberia has only worsened over the weekend, despite the arrival in the region of the heads of the Russian Federal Consumer Rights Protection and Human Health Control Service (Rospotrebnadzor) and Emergencies Ministry (EMERCOM) and the promise to deal with the fire seats “in two or three days,” Kommersant writes. According to official data, since Friday, the area of forest fires in Russia increased by one-third - from 18 thousand hectares to 26.6 thousand hectares. Experts say that officials continue to conceal the scale of fires and complain that less than one percent of the EMERCOM group alerted for the emergency response efforts take part in the fire extinguishing operation.

Meanwhile, experts continue to talk about the concealment of the true scale of fires, Kommersant reports. Greenpeace Russia has estimated that there are up to 500,000 hectares of forestland affected by fires in Yakutia alone and warned that “the situation continues to deteriorate.” The experts substantiate their estimates by data from the Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS), developed with the participation of NASA: the survey presented on the Greenpeace website shows that the number of fires in Yakutia is already reaching 100.

The drought this year has hit 16 regions, killing crops at an area of 1.5 million hectares, according to Novye Izvestia. “This year’s harvest will be clearly lower than last year,” coordinator of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Yulia Yevtushok told the publications. “The food inflation acceleration should be expected, grain prices are now growing rapidly.” According to the expert, the price level of 2010, memorable for its bad harvest in Russia, has already been exceeded. And the grain price growth inevitably causes increases in meat, chicken and dairy products’ prices. In addition to downgrading forecasts for Russia, the unfavourable situation in the United States where the drought has affected nearly half of the states, because of which the world prices of corn, wheat and soybeans are growing every week, has also its influence. This encourages the producers to increase exports.

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