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    MOSCOW, March 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The economic benefit of long-term weather forecasts is running into ten billion roubles (1 dollar approximately equals 29 roubles) a year, Yuri Bedritski in charge of the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring (Rosgidromet) told the RIA Novosti news conference on Thursday.

    The Russian chief weatherman explained that the figure was made up of the total of possible harm were it not for long-term weather forecasts.

    Weather forecasts are vital for enterprises of the fuel-energy complex, the farming sector, air, river and maritime transport, Bedritski said. "The more accurate the weather forecast, the more the economic return", he explained.

    Bedritski stressed the importance of informing people of the state of environment. It is important not only to warn of a threat to life or economic damage but also to let people better to get adapted to the changing weather conditions.

    "Year in and year out the number of victims of calamities - floods, avalanches, etc. - increases. Everybody from childhood should know that such phenomena exist," he said.

    According to the federal weather service, 220 calamities and weather anomalies - floods, showers, avalanches, mud flows, temperatures jumps - were registered in Russia last year.

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