Zero Hedge 
Aug 9, 2010
Wheat prices may be lower now that the dramatic spike higher has seen various speculators coming out and betting on a reversion, but little has been resolved yet, as Russia now debates extending the grain export ban beyond the December 31, even as fires in the Russian countryside continue to burn, and a record heatwave and lack of winds have concentrated a huge toxic cloud of carbon monoxide above the Russian capital. To be sure, some development has been noted with fires now affecting “only” 170,000 hectares of land, compared to the peak of 190,000, although firefighters are still having a difficult time materially containing the blaze. The worst consequence of the inferno: the mortality rate in Moscow has doubled as a result. The FT reports: “The death rate in Moscow has doubled due to the toxic smog hanging over the city from wildfires raging around the Russian capital and the worst heatwave since records began, a senior city health official said on Monday. Andrei Seltsovsky, the head of Moscow’s health department, said the number of people dying daily in the city had now reached about 700, while the death rate normally averages about 360 to 380 people a day. “The mortality rate has doubled,” the official told reporters.” And taking things from bad to worse is the breaking news that Russia has just declared a state of emergency in Ozersk, where one of the largest nuclear storage and fuel-reprocessing center Mayak is located.
From Xinhua :
MOSCOW, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) — A state of emergency has been declared in Russia’s Urals city of Ozersk, where one of the largest nuclear storage and fuel-reprocessing center Mayak is located, reported RIA Novosti news agency Monday, citing the local administration.
Local authorities claim the move was caused by the “complicated situation” with peat bog fires.
As for the standard of living in what is already the world’s most expensive city, here are some additional news from the FT that will make living in Moscow virtually impossible:
Moscow was coated in choking smog on Monday for the fourth day running, with levels of pollution, including carbon monoxide and other harmful particles, more than 3 times acceptable levels. The pollution had climbed to nearly seven times acceptable norms on Saturday, prompting many to flee the capital and businesses and a handful of embassies to close, while the area hit by peat bog and forest fires tripled at the weekend.
Mr Seltsovsky’s comments were the first official confirmation of what many had feared. A Moscow morgue official told the Financial Times at the weekend that the number of corpses had doubled in recent days, with mainly the elderly affected, while death rates had been climbing for the last month and half due to the record heat. But other morgue officials had declined to comment and a senior health official on Sunday had disputed an anonymous blog written by a Moscow doctor claiming that medical staff were being forced to coverup the number of heat and smog-related deaths, while space was running out in city morgues.
Mr Seltsovsky said on Monday that the number of people hospitalised due to the heat had increased by 10 per cent, while the number of children in hospital had increased by 17 per cent. Alexei Yakovlev, a prominent doctor of biological science, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station he estimated the smog was costing 200 lives a day even as health officials urged residents to remain indoors with windows sealed while employers were urged to keep staff away from work until Tuesday, so as to reduce the number of people on the street.
Meteorologists said slight winds were expected to start to lift the smog by Wednesday as firefighters continued to battle the blazes that have broken out across a vast swathe of European Russia after the record heatwave turned forests and peat bogs into tinder boxes.