Fires Kill 15, Leave 5,000 Homeless in Russian Siberia, RIA Says

Wildfires swept through Russia’s Khakassia region in Siberia, killing at least 15 people and leaving about 5,000 homeless, RIA Novosti reported Monday, citing a spokeswoman for the regional government.

Driven by strong winds and dry weather, flames tore through more than 20 towns and villages, destroying about 1,300 homes during the weekend, spokeswoman Irina Emelyanova told the state-run RIA news service. Authorities put out fires in 38 towns, the Khakassia emergencies ministry said in a statement on its website Monday.

Drought and rising temperatures have fueled an increasing number of wildfires in Russia. Natural and man-made fires contributed to the country’s losing more tree coverage than any other country in the world from 2011 to 2013, compounding the toll wreaked by climate change, according to an April 2 report by Global Forest Watch, which analyzes satellite images to track forest development.

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