Russian military aircraft help fight wildfires in Siberia

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In this grab taken from video released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, an air view of smoke from a forest fire in the republic of Sakha also knows as Yakutia, Russia Far East, Saturday, July 17, 2021. The Russian military has used its heavy-lift transport planes to help douse wildfires in Siberia. The Defense Ministry said Saturday that over the last 24 hours the crew of Il-76 military transport planes dropped water on forest fires in Yakutia in northeastern Siberia. The ministry said that military helicopters also dropped water to extinguish fires and also carried firefighters. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian military has used its heavy-lift transport planes to help douse wildfires in Siberia, the Defense Ministry said Saturday.

It said that the crew of Il-76 military transport planes dropped 336 metric tons (370 tons) of water on blazes in Sakha-Yakutia in northeastern Siberia over the last 24 hours.

The ministry said that military helicopters also dropped water to extinguish fires and carried firefighters.

The regional branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry’s in Sakha-Yakutia said more than 2,000 of its personnel were battling the wildfires.

The Russian state agency responsible for fighting forest fires, Avialesookhrana, said that more than 300 fires had engulfed about 857,000 hectares (over 2.1 million acres).

It noted that Sakha-Yakutia was the worst affected, with 123 fires covering more than 725,700 hectares (around 1.8 million acres).

Russia has been plagued by widespread forest fires, blamed on unusually high temperatures and the neglect of fire safety rules.

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