People Flee Moscow as Death Rate Doubles

Some believe government covering up smoke's effects
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2010 6:51 AM CDT

People are leaving Moscow in droves, as smoke from surrounding wildfires chokes the city. The daily mortality rate has almost doubled from 360 or so to "around 700," the city’s top health official said yesterday, though he blamed the punishing heat wave, rather than the smoke. He denied that the Kremlin was covering up the dangers of the smoke, the New York Times reports, saying, "This is no secret. Abroad,” he added, “people drown like flies, and no one asks questions.”

The death toll was certainly being hushed up last week, with health officials denying that bodies were piling up until one doctor announced his morgue had run out of space. Meteorologists say they expect the severe conditions to linger for several more days, and researchers say that climate change is partially to blame, the BBC reports. (Read more Moscow stories.)

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