Fires spread in Siberian forests

Fires are spreading fast across vast Siberian forests in a reminder of last year's worst drought on record, which killed dozens of people and forced Russia to suspend grain exports.

The emergency ministry said yesterday that about 100,000 hectares of forest was caught up in fires, mainly in the far east as well as in the oil-rich Siberian province of Khanty-Mansiysk and nearby areas.

The European part of Russia, the country's agricultural hinterland, was largely unaffected, but the authorities say without rain, the situation may worsen.