Airport in Siberia halts operation because of wildfires

MOSCOW — An airport in the Siberian city of Yakutsk temporarily halted operations on Sunday after the municipality, along with 50 other towns and settlements, got covered in smoke from wildfires raging in the region.

Russia has been plagued by widespread forest fires, blamed on unusually high temperatures and the neglect of fire safety rules, with Sakha-Yakutia in northeastern Siberia being the worst affected region lately.

Local emergency officials said 187 fires raged in the region on Sunday, and the total areas engulfed by blazes have grown by 100,000 hectares (about 247,000 acres) in the past 24 hours.

Smoke from the fires covered 51 towns, settlements and cities in the region, including the capital Yakutsk, forcing the authorities to suspend all flights in and out of the city.