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    Russia's Medvedev orders modernization of firefighting service (Update 1)

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    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday ordered Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu to draw up a special program to boost the firefighting service.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday ordered Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu to draw up a special program to boost the firefighting service.

    Medvedev said the program should also ensure sufficient numbers of vehicles and other means of transportation, including airplanes.

    He said there was a pressing need to adopt "advanced firefighting equipment, modern fire safety systems."

    "Separate funding will need to be set aside for that," he said.

    He stressed that significant funding would be required.

    "However, taking into account what is happening this summer, we do not know what will happen next year - the climate is changing," he said.

    At least 40 people have died and over 2,000 have been left homeless by fires which have swept across the central part of European Russia. The wildfires have been sparked by temperatures up to and above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).

    The damage caused by the flames is estimated at over 4.6 billion rubles ($150 million).

    On Monday, Medvedev introduced emergency measures in the seven parts of Russia that have been the worst affected by wildfires.

    Emergency regulations will be enforced in the Republics of Mari El and Mordovia, as well as the Vladimir, Voronezh, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod and Ryazan provinces.

    Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered the heads of Russian regions to "clean up their act" on wildfires, adding they would be held personally responsible for building new homes for the victims of wildfires.

    He also demanded that officials tighten fire safety regulations.

    "The irresponsible behavior of those who ignore the bans and violate elementary safety rules comes at too high a price for ordinary citizens," Putin said.

    SOCHI, August 3 (RIA Novosti) 

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