Forest fires devouring 60,000 hectares in northeastern Kazakhstan have claimed the lives of 14 people, the Central Asian country's emergency ministry said Saturday.
In total, 14 bodies have been found," the ministry said in a statement, after announcing the day before looking for trapped rangers. The situation is under control and homes are not threatened by fire, despite the evacuation of 316 people, the ministry said, acknowledging difficulties due to the high temperature and wind spreading in almost all directions.
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More than a thousand people, mainly members of the Ministries of Emergency Situations and Defence, are involved in extinguishing these forest fires. This is the heaviest toll in recent years in this former Soviet republic five times the size of the France. According to local authorities, the fire was started by lightning on June 8.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The two countries are allies in the economic and military fields. Earlier in the day, President Tokayev dismissed Emergency Situations Minister Yuri Ilyin.