Fog from peat fires blankets Moscow amid heat wave

Smog from forest and peat bog fires can be seen on Red Square in central Moscow The Kremlin was barely visible as a pungent fog closed in on baking Moscow

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An acrid fog from forest and peat fires has blanketed Moscow, as the Russian capital swelters in a record heat wave.

Firefighters were trying to douse 60 fires covering 59 hectares (145 acres) in the countryside outside Moscow on Monday, the emergencies ministry said.

People with bronchial problems were advised to stay indoors as the level of toxic particles in the air rose five to eight times above the norm.

Flights were unaffected, but the smog shrouded landmarks like the Kremlin.

Doctors say Muscovites should keep their windows closed and wear gauze masks to avoid inhaling ash particles.

Areas to the east and south-east of Moscow are reported to be worst affected.

Water-bombing planes are being used to tackle the fires just beyond the city.

Temperatures in Moscow have risen above 35C in the most intense heat wave to grip the city since 1981.

Read a selection of comments from Russia:

I work two hours east of Moscow directly in the vicinity of the peat fires. During the still, hot weather the smoke from the fires just hangs in the air smothering everything. At times it is extremely acrid and stings your eyes. We are suffering one of the hottest summers on record and some extreme weather, including severe thunderstorms and what seemed to be a tornado that ripped through the town, ripping up trees and killing a 19-year-old woman on Saturday. We are all looking forward to cooler weather.

Rob Laing, Shatura

I live in central Moscow, very close to the Red Square and about a five-minute walk from Christ the Saviour Cathedral. Tonight I started smelling something burning. At first I thought someone was burning something outside, until I got a call from a friend a few kilometres away - she smelled it too. I hardly ever leave the centre of the city and for us to smell the peat fire so far from where it's happening is quite frightening. All the high-rises I can usually see from my balcony appeared to be in a haze today, it's quite awful. As far as leaving the windows closed, stores in Moscow are out of affordable air conditioners and have been for a while - the only thing we can really do is open the windows, though at 35C it doesn't help much.

Ksenia, Moscow

When I went out this morning there was a hazy quality to the air - like bonfire smoke. I live in the north-west of Moscow and this was the first time I had really noticed it this summer. We have had temperatures steadily in the 30s since the first week of July. Of course, our apartment windows are open because of the heat and as well as the black smuts floating in from the cars there's now this. The authorities, as usual, do nothing. How can you close windows and stay inside? This is an idiotic recommendation. The city council and the mayor have ignored the problems of poor air quality caused by unchecked traffic congestion, rubbish incinerators and industrial plants in the city for years.

Ian Lund, Moscow

We are in Nizhny Novgorod, which is about 450km from Moscow. For the last three nights, fog has come into the city and stays until 0900. The air is thick, gets most intense in the early morning.

Anton Sakharov, Nizhny Novgorod

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