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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Siberia, Far East Hit by Flooding

Vast tracts of Siberia and the Far East have been hit by flooding and forest fires, twin calamities accompanying the warm spring weather that has settled over much of the country, and emergency workers Tuesday bombed ice jams blocking the regions' wide rivers.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said that more than 4,000 residential buildings housing a total of 29,600 people were inundated after rivers overflowed their banks. The Siberian region of Irkutsk and Far East republic of Sakha were most seriously affected.

Sergei Shoigu, emergency situations minister, said there was a "cork" of ice blocking the Lena River near the town of Lensk, some 80 kilometers long and 3 to 4 meters high. Interfax reported that emergency workers had used 45 tons of explosives to break up the jam.

An icebreaker was at work farther up the river, near the Sakha capital, Yakutsk, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, forests were ablaze in the Far East region of Khabarovsk. Itar-Tass reported that the fires covered more than 6,500 hectares of taiga.