Kazakhstan | Forest fires kill 14

(Astana) Forest fires devouring 60,000 hectares in northeastern Kazakhstan have claimed the lives of 14 people, the Ministry of Emergency Situations of this huge Central Asian country announced on Saturday.

“A total of 14 bodies have been recovered,” the ministry said in a statement, after announcing the day before that it was looking for trapped rangers.

The situation is under control and the houses are not threatened by fire, despite the evacuation of 316 people, the ministry said, acknowledging the difficulties due to the high temperature and the wind spreading in almost all directions.

More than 1,000 people, mostly members of the Emergency Situations and Defense Ministries, are involved in putting out these wildfires.

This is the heaviest toll of recent years in this former Soviet republic as large as five times the size of 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 Ilin from his post.

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