"Russian Patriarch Prays For Rain As Wildfires Rage"

"Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill asked Russians to pray for rain on Sunday as wildfires raged across the European parts of the vast country, sweltering since June in an unprecedented heat wave.

The hottest weather since records began 130 years ago has withered crops and pushed thousands of farmers to the verge of bankruptcy.

The Emergencies Ministry said that as of Sunday morning, 774 fires, including 369 that started since Saturday, were raging in an area totaling about 130,000 hectares (500 sq miles), about the size of the administrative area of the city of Los Angeles.

At least 28 people have died in wildfires in European Russia in the past few days, the ministry said and more than 5,200 people have been evacuated."

Dmitry Solovyov reports for Reuters August 3, 2010.

Source: Reuters, 08/03/2010