Europe

Russia firefighters killed in Siberia wildfire in Tuva

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At least eight Russian firefighters have died during a wildfire in southern Siberia, forestry officials have said.

The eight were part of a team of firefighting parachutists flown in to tackle the fire, the Russian forestry service told Interfax news agency.

The blaze took hold in the remote Russian republic of Tuva, which borders Mongolia, and destroyed a total of 500 hectares (1,200 acres).

Authorities said they had opened a criminal negligence investigation.

Local officials said all of those involved in the operation had received adequate training, the Spanish news agency Efe reports.

At least one other person has been killed in forest fires so far this year, Agence France Press reports.

In 2010, wildfires in Russia razed more than a million hectares of woods and destroyed a quarter of the cereal harvest.

Ecological activists have been highly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to reform the management of the country's forests and, specifically, to get rid of 70,000 forest rangers in a country which accounts for 23% of the planet's total wooded area.

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