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16 Jul, 2010 05:00

Drownings triple as Russians seek to escape summer heat

Record high summer temperatures have gripped Russia forcing people sizzling from the heat to seek refuge at local beaches and leading to a rise in unintentional drownings.

Forty-eight people drowned in rivers and ponds in Central Russia within the last week and more than 1200 have drowned since the beginning of the summer, the Emergency Ministry reported.

Officials claim a dangerous combination of alcohol and swimming in banned areas is the most common cause of the deadly accidents.

Temperatures are expected to continue rising and could reach 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) towards the end of the week. The hot weather has also sparked many fires with up to 500 being reported daily across Russia, 90 per cent of which are extinguished on the same day.