Russia loses $400 million in fires

This summer's record heat wave in Russia has caused an estimated $400 million in damage to the country's economy.

"I can say that we are approaching 12 billion rubles [about $400 million], if we sum up the spending on stopping the fires with the funds assigned for the construction of housing for the victims and expenses on using additional resources," Russian Emergency Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Thursday.

Shoigu pointed out that the cost of damaged wood should be added to the sum, as it is now unfit for industrial use.

The minister added that there should be a rethinking of the fire protection system to prevent disasters in future.

"However, it is much more important and I think we will be able to name the figure somewhat later, to take measures along the lines of the Forestry Agency, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the local authorities that such situations do not recur in the future," he pointed.

The minister added that the disaster could have been prevented if advanced information about the threat was given.

Officials say 53 people died and 3,500 were affected by the wildfires and extreme heat.

More than 100,000 rescue workers and volunteers were involved in tackling forest fires across the country. They managed to save around 4,000 towns from burning.

The heat wave has now receded in most parts of central Russia.