Europe

Siberia wildfires kill 15 as thousands of Russians flee

Firefighters in Khakassia, 12 Apr 15 - pic from Russian Emergencies Ministry Image copyright EPA
Image caption High winds spread the flames quickly across much of the Khakassia region

Wildfires have killed at least 15 people and injured about 400 in the Khakassia region of southern Siberia, Russian media report.

Officials say the fires, fuelled by high winds and dry weather, destroyed 1,200 houses in 30 towns and villages.

Firefighters have now managed to extinguish the flames, the Rossiya 24 TV news channel reports.

They were helped by water-bombing aircraft. Five cases of alleged criminal negligence have been opened.

At least 5,000 people have fled to emergency accommodation.

Authorities in the Khakassia republic - part of the Russian Federation - have decided to ban alcohol sales while the state of emergency continues in the region.

There are suspicions that farmers burning grass in their fields were to blame.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Thick, acrid smoke blanketed many areas

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