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Emergency Services Warn Moscow Could See Heavy Smog in Summer

Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral is seen in smog, August 2010.

The Emergency Situations Ministry has warned that Moscow could be covered in an acrid layer of smog this summer due to an increased risk of peat fires outside of the city, a news report said.

The warning came as a foul-smelling smog was recorded around Dmitrovskoye Shosse in the north of the Moscow, the Gazeta.ru news site reported late Wednesday night.

Emergency Situations Ministry officials said the majority of Russia's federal districts will this year face an increased risk of pollution from peat fires, which are expected to start earlier than usual, RIA Novosti reported.

Moscow had been hit by smog a number of times last year, accompanied by warnings from the emergency services for Muscovites to stay indoors.

The country's meteorological watchdog blamed an outbreak last fall on the burning of logging waste near the city, but environmental activists called the explanation insufficient, saying car fumes and industrial emissions appeared to have also played a part.

Meanwhile record-high temperatures in summer 2010 led to an outbreak of forest fires that sent so much smog over Moscow that many residents fled the city. The smoke from burning peatlands covered the city for several weeks, and authorities were forced to issue health warnings as the natural mortality rate doubled.

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