21 Aug 2010

Russian forestry chief sacked over fires

12:40 pm on 21 August 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia has sacked the head of the forestry agency for failing to deal adequately with the recent wildfires.

The fires have destroyed hundreds of thousands of hectares and shrouded Moscow in dense smog.

Mr Putin replaced Alexei Savinov with his deputy, Viktor Maslyakov.

More than 50 people have died in the fires triggered by the most severe heat wave ever recorded in Russia.

Mr Putin on Friday also pledged another 2.7 billion roubles ($88.52 million) in aid for wildfire victims, on top of 5 billion roubles promised earlier.

President Dmitry Medvedev lifted a state of emergency on Friday in the regions around Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and Mordovia.

The BBC reports heavy rain has brought respite to the capital with temperatures falling from 32C to 9C in two days.

Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu earlier said the cost of extinguishing the fires and replacing houses destroyed by the flames had reached 12 billion roubles ($US394 million).