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    EMERGENCY SITUATION IN ALTAI

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    NOVOSIBIRSK, May 20 (RIA Novosti) - The government of the Republic of Altai has declared an emergency because of unusually hot weather, the head of the Altai Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Department, Mikhail Terekhov, said on Thursday.

    According to him, in the past few days the temperature in the shade has risen to 34-38 degrees Celsius. In connection with this, the fire danger warning level has been raised to 5, the highest level.

    Mr. Terekhov said Emergency Situations Ministry and forest protection forces had been placed on alert.

    The public has been banned from entering forests without preliminary registration because, according to statistics, nearly all forest fires are started by people.

    He said that the meteorological service had forecast strong winds up to 20 meters per second in the next few days. "This could make the danger of fire, which is now being kept under control, greater," he noted.

    Presently, there are nine forest fires in the republic, two of which are in the Altai State Nature Preserve.

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