No end in sight as Russia dries up in heat wave
While emergency teams deal with rising cases of heat stroke, forecasters say the hot weather is set to stay.
With mercury hitting record highs in Moscow and office dress-codes eased all around, the city of 12-million is starting to look like a beach resort.
Fountains have become bathtubs with people taking every opportunity to escape from the searing heat of the capital. Other Muscovites have taken more risky dips in the river, the result of which has led to three hundred people drowning this week alone.
According to forecasters, it doesn't look like Russians will have a break from this furnace anytime soon.
“This is a serious abnormality. The Russian weather service has never measured such temperatures in Moscow in July,” said Dmitry Kiktyov, Deputy Director of the Hydrometeorological Center of Russia. “According to our calculations, it hasn't even reached its peak yet.”
Not everyone is feeling the heat, though. Russia's soft drinks and ice-cream producers are making a fortune, while barbers in the country are having a busy time too.
In addition, online shops selling air conditioners and fans have waiting lists that run into August.
In a situation when no amount of money can buy you a breath of fresh air, emergency services are receiving thousands of calls from people suffering from heat stroke and sun burn.
“People with lung diseases will find it hard of course, so it would be better to take them somewhere where there is no smoke,” said Leonind Lazebnik, Moscow’s chief therapist. “Another option would be to buy a respirator mask; they sell them in pharmacies.”
Domesticated animals are also having a hard time. Dog owner Kirill is giving his pet several showers a day just to keep cool. He feels sorry for his canine chum, as it is stuck with its coat all year round.
“The poor dog is suffering so much,” Kirill said. “It always comes to sit on my lap with sad eyes hoping I can somehow ease the heat. All I can do is poor cold water on it!”
While the city has become a one giant oven, tinder dry conditions in the outlying countryside have led to forest fires – some of which have been burning for weeks.
State officials themselves are feeling the heat.
“The temperatures are going up every day,” said Viktor Kuznetsov, state inspector for road safety. “It is very tough for our staff. Recently I heard a story about someone frying eggs on the pavement.”