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Rare Forest Fire Hits Winter Tundra in Far East Russia

Some 360 hectares are burning despite below-zero temperatures in the Magadan region some 10,000 kilometers east of Moscow. / yapnews

An unseasonably rare forest fire has engulfed the Russian tundra as the country faces significant changes from climate change, Interfax reported Wednesday.

Some 360 hectares are burning despite below-zero temperatures in the Magadan region some 10,000 kilometers east of Moscow.

“The tundra is usually covered with snow at this time of year, so such fires occur extremely rarely,” Interfax quoted an unnamed source as saying.

Firefighters’ efforts to extinguish the flames are hampered by frozen water reservoirs, Interfax reported.

Video posted online shows firefighters working to stamp out the fire with their feet and with tree branches.

The regional Emergency Situations Ministry said that no human settlements are threatened, with the nearest village 12 kilometers from the fires.

The subject of tundra fires was broached by U.S. President Joe Biden at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on Tuesday.

Addressing President Vladimir Putin’s decision not to attend the gathering in person, Biden noted that the Russian president’s “tundra is burning — literally, the tundra is burning.” 

“He has serious, serious climate problems, and he is mum on willingness to do anything," Biden said.

The Kremlin rejected Biden’s criticism, saying Russia is making “enormous systemic efforts” to reduce emissions and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Russia is warming 2.5 times faster than the planet overall.

With roughly 65% of its territory covered in permafrost, Russian soil that had been frozen for millennia has begun to thaw with rising air temperatures in recent decades.

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