Forest fires have devoured 60,000 hectares in northeastern Kazakhstan and claimed the lives of fourteen people, the Kazakh emergency situation ministry announced on Saturday (June 10). Earlier in the day, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dismissed Emergency Situations Minister Yuri Ilin from his post.
“A total of fourteen bodies were found”, the ministry said in a statement, after announcing the day before that it was looking for trapped rangers. The situation is under control and the houses are not threatened by fire, despite the evacuation of 316 people, the ministry said, acknowledging the difficulties due to the high temperature and the wind spreading in almost all directions.
More than 1,000 people, mostly members of the emergency and defense ministries, are helping to put out these wildfires. This is the heaviest toll of recent years in this former Soviet republic as large as five times the size of France.
According to local authorities, the fire was started by lightning on June 8.