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Putin arrives to southeast Siberia to oversee wildfire issue

The brief visit will last for about two hours

CHITA, April 25. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived to southeastern Siberia’s Trans-Baikal Region bordering China and Mongolia on Thursday to discuss tackling the wildfires and post-disaster recovery effort in the region.

The brief visit will last for about two hours. After that, the president will fly to the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov earlier told reporters that the situation with wildfires in the region "remains extremely complicated, so the president decided to hold a meeting there."

All heads of relevant agencies will take part in the conference, including Emergencies Minister Yevgeny Zinichev. According to Peskov, the Russian leader will listen to reports about the present-day situation in the region, with an emphasis on "helping people who were injured or lost their homes as a result of the wildfires" and on "whether there is sufficient equipment and personnel to tackle the wildfires."

On April 19 and 20, seventeen settlements were affected by the steppe fires in the south and southeast of the Trans-Baikal region. 35 people were injured, eight of them were hospitalized. The fire destroyed 99 residential buildings, 113 farms and 148 auxiliary buildings. Besides, the fire destroyed agricultural equipment, two grain storage facilities and over 5,600 domestic animals.

According to Russian President’s envoy to the Far East, Yuri Trutnev, the damage from the wildfires is estimated at about 400 million rubles ($6.2 million at the current exchange rate). A total of 650 people were affected.

A state of emergency has been declared in the region. A criminal investigation was launched into possible negligence.