A man cools off in a Moscow fountain as a heat wave raises temperatures to 30C, 22 May 2007. BBCBy Sarah Gordon, Sky News Online
5:08pm UK, Monday July 05, 2010

Hundreds of people have drowned in Russia trying to keep cool during a heatwave that has been sweeping across the country.

As temperatures soared to record-breaking highs, hitting 37C in central regions, sweltering Russians have been throwing themselves into rivers and lakes to cope with the heat.

But many have ignored warning signs about hidden dangers at certain spots or drank alcohol before swimming, putting themselves in danger.

Russia's emergency ministry confirmed that almost 300 people have drowned during the heatwave, with at least 63 people dying in one day alone.

A ministry spokesman said: "Last week, 285 people died in Russia's waterways. The main reason for people drowning is swimming in places that are not equipped and the use of alcohol."

Russian weather forecasters said the country had not experienced such a prolonged heatwave since 1981.

Moscow's City Hall had to send out trucks to water the streets after reports that in some areas people's shoes were getting stuck in melting tarmac.

Drowning is a major problem in Russia, with more than 3,000 people dying while swimming last year alone.

It is thought most people ignore the potential dangers when searching for a swimming area.

Meanwhile, authorities on the Eastern Seaboard of the US have issued extreme heat alerts, with the mercury well over 30C in some areas.

Hundreds drown during Russian heatwave



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