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    MOSCOW, January 6, 2004. /RIA Novosti correspondent Grigory Dubovitsky/ -- The Russian Emergency Ministry's experts forecast that the number of man-caused catastrophes in the country in 2004 will decline. The conclusion is contained in the ministry's annual emergency forecast.

    "The number of man-caused catastrophes in 2004 is predicted at 600-620, the number of injuries at 2,900-3,100 people, while the number of death cases will not exceed 900-1,000 people. In general, the figures are lower than the average of the last ten years," the document points out.

    2004 is likely to see 40-50 magnetic storms, 6 or 9 of which will be large-scaled. Geomagnetic perturbations are most likely to occur in January-April. In May-June they will occur more seldom, and at the end of the year the level of geomagnetic activity will probably be low.

    "On the days of geomagnetic perturbations we forecast that the average long-term number of man-caused catastrophes as the result of operators' mistakes and accidents in complicated electronic and mechanical systems will be exceeded," the ministry's report reads.

    The number of natural calamities will remain at the average long-term level, 280-290, the experts believe.

    "The scale of natural fires in the country in 2004 is expected to be somewhat higher than the average long-term figures, but lower than in 2003," the ministry points out.

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