Moscow: The US offered to supply fire-fighting equipment to Russia to help deal with continuing wildfires and peat bog fires caused by abnormally hot weather as President Barack Obama spoke to his counterpart Dmitry Medvedev over phone.
During the telephonic conversation with Medvedev last night, Obama expressed condolences at the loss of life and concern at the disastrous environmental situation in Central Russia caused by raging forest and peat bog fires.
"Obama reiterated the US readiness to supply the necessary fire-fighting equipment and render expert assistance," a Kremlin release said.
Earlier, an expert team from the US visited Moscow to look at the possibility of US assistance in Russia's fire-fighting operations already joined by several CIS and European countries.
Thousands of emergency workers and military personnel have been working round the clock for almost three weeks to fight fires in 22 Russian regions, which have so far killed more than 50 people and left over 3,500 homeless.
The immediate economic cost of the fires has been estimated at USD 15 billion.
Meanwhile, satellite monitoring showed a significant drop in the number of wildfire hot spots on the Russian territory with only 359 registered yesterday, according to the ScanEx website that receives information from two NASA satellites.
Medvedev had yesterday lifted the state of emergency in three out of 7 regions due to improvement in the situation.
The emergency remains in force in four regions - Mordovia, the Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and Ryazan regions. A high pressure system, which has brought abnormally hot weather to central Russia, could start fading away next week, a top Russian weatherman said.
"The high pressure system over central Russia will start dissipating next Tuesday. For the first time since June 21 we are noticing changes in the atmospheric circulation," said Roman Vilfand, the head of the Russian state meteorological centre was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.
Vilfand said that the conditions for smog formation around Moscow would remain until next week due to continuing wildfires and peat bog fires outside the capital and an unfavourable air circulation.
Moscow had refreshing showers last night and this morning, but the threat of smog returning over the weekend remains high with the change of wind.
First Published: Friday, August 13, 2010, 12:26