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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Swelters in Record Heat Wave

APHonor guards rushing to help a colleague who fainted from heat stroke Tuesday at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Moscow sweltered in record heat for a second day Tuesday, as emergency officials said four people drowned as they sought refuge in rivers and ponds and 10 police officers collapsed from heat exhaustion outside the courthouse where Mikhail Khodorkovsky's verdict is being read.

Tuesday's air temperature peaked at 30.8 degrees Celsius at 5 p.m. -- breaking the record of 29.7 degrees set on May 24, 1983, said Nadezhda Satina, spokeswoman for the Moscow weather bureau.

On Monday, the air temperature rose to 29.5 degrees, also topping the previous record for the day -- 29 degrees -- from 1939, Satina said.

But relief is in sight. A cold front is expected to blow across Moscow on Wednesday and Thursday, pushing daytime temperatures down to 21 to 26 degrees for the rest of the month, she said.

Four people drowned Monday, the city's ambulance service said, and it cautioned residents to avoid swimming while intoxicated. "With the onset of the heat, residents and visitors to the capital more often attempt to escape the heat in bodies of water," a spokesperson said, Interfax reported. "Many of them wade into the water while they are drunk, and this is a cause of accidents."

Ten policemen suffered minor heat strokes Monday as they stood under the baking sun to seal off the Meshchansky District Court from protesters from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., when the judges finished reading their verdict, Ekho Moskvy reported, citing emergency officials.

Police on Tuesday denied that the officers had suffered heat strokes. Police spokeswoman Larisa Filatova said the weather had not been hot enough for a heat stroke and that the officers' peaked hats had shielded them from the sun.

But as the heat wave continued Tuesday, a Kremlin honor guard fainted during a wreath-laying ceremony by visitng Indian President Abdul Kalam at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

Air temperatures on Monday and Tuesday were 7.9 degrees and 6.5 degrees respectively, higher than usual for those days, the weather bureau said.

Tuesday's temperature came close to breaking the record for Moscow's hottest day in May -- 31.8 degrees, which was set on May 29, 1891. A cloudburst late Tuesday afternoon stopped the temperature from rising higher, the weather bureau said.

In addition to heat exhaustion and strokes, high temperatures can cause heart attacks and changes in blood pressure, said Svetlana Igumenova, a doctor at Tim Assistance, a private medical center.

She said that when it is hot, people should stay in the shade, wear hats, turn on fans and air conditioners, and drink a lot of water. Juice and soda are not recommended because they make people thirstier.

The hottest time of day is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., she said.

In contrast to people, animals at the Moscow Zoo are taking the heat in stride, said zoo spokeswoman Yelena Mendosa. Polar bears and seals were swimming in their cooled water pools and "feeling well," she said.

Also, "they have special shelters where it's cool and they can go if they feel uncomfortable," she said.

A polar owl was hiding in the shadow of trees, she said.

The weather service said temperatures over the upcoming summer months would not deviate much from the norm. The average temperature in July is expected to be 1 degree higher than usual.