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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

051 to Be Moscow's New Hot Line for Emergencies

Need help? Soon you can call 051.

The new three-digit number will be launched in coming months to handle all emergencies in Moscow, replacing the more awkward 995-9999 number now being used.

"We have been pushing for a shorter and simpler number for years and finally we will have it," said Lyudmila Skvortsova, a spokeswoman for the Moscow emergency situations department.

The department, which is part of the Emergency Situations Ministry, coordinates the work of 26 city emergency services including ambulances, fire trucks and even land mine squads.

Following in the footsteps of 911 in the United States and 999 in Britain, the new number is supposed to supercede the other emergency telephone numbers that Muscovites have been memorizing for decades: 01 for firefighters, 02 for the police, 03 for ambulances and 04 for emergencies with gas lines.

Those older numbers will eventually be phased out, but not any time soon, Skvortsova said.

"There is enough work for all of us, so there is no place or time to be competitive," she said.

Skvortsova said her department is in the process of switching over to the 051 number and it will start working later this year.

Skvortsova said the need for the new number arose because even though the 995-9999 number is easy to remember, the many 9's make it too time-consuming to dial on most Moscow telephones.

"On rotary phones it is just too difficult, especially for people who are in distress in an emergency situation," she said.

"I think the 051 number is very easy. Dialing zero is familiar in any emergencies from the past, while 5 and 1 are the highest and lowest marks in school — which is also known to everyone from early childhood."