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    Putin calls for resignation of regional officials who failed to cope with fires

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    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called on Friday for the resignation of local government heads who have failed to cope with the deadly wildfires in central Russia.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called on Friday for the resignation of local government heads who have failed to cope with the deadly wildfires in central Russia.

    Over the last 24 hours, over 1000 homes have been destroyed in the largest wildfire ever to hit the European part of Russia.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrived in the Nizhny Novogorod region earlier on Friday to assess the situation.

    "I recommend the resignation of the heads of regions [devastated by fire] who have to a significant degree lost the trust of citizens," the prime minister said.

    Many residents in the Nizhny Novgorod region, whose houses had been burnt down in the fires, complained to Putin that the actions taken by local authorities were chaotic and uncoordinated.

    At least five people died and 21 people were hospitalized in the Voronezh region. A further 100 people received medical assistance and over 2,500 were evacuated.

    Russia's Emergencies Ministry has not received reports of human casualties from the Nizhny Novgorod region, but at least 1,662 residents have been evacuated from the areas threatened by quickly spreading fires.

    The premier said the families of those who died in wildfires would receive 1 million rubles ($33,000) in compensation each. He also said the government would allocate around 3 million rubles ($100,000) for the reconstruction of each burnt down house.

    Putin said the government would also allocate funds to compensate the loss of personal property.

    "21,690 fires have been registered in Russia for this period [summer 2010]," Putin said. "This is 10 percent more than last year."

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for the immediate construction of housing for those left homeless by the fires.

    Russian Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin said anyone who had lost their home as a result of the fires would receive a new one by yearend.

    The ministry has dispatched additional firefighting units and 16 aircraft and helicopters to fight wildfires in five regions of central Russia.

    Earlier on Friday, Medvedev ordered the government to take urgent additional measures to fight the fires and to allocate funds for damage compensation. Medvedev has also called for proposals to be drawn up on the purchase of additional firefighting equipment, including Be-200 aircraft.

    Temperatures across much of western and central Russia have topped 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) during the past five weeks, causing peat bog and forest fires and creating what is thought to be the worst drought since 1972.

     

    VYKSA (Nizhny Novgorod region), July 30 (RIA Novosti)

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