Emergency workers responding to vast forest fires in a remote region of Russia have revealed they've been using climate engineering technology to trigger rainclouds and help fight the inferno spreading over thousands of hectares.
The regional emergency services headquarters in Yakutia, a Far Eastern region larger in size than countries like Argentina or Mexico, said on Wednesday that they were doing everything possible to tackle the blazes from the air. "For almost a month, 800 rescuers equipped with parachutes… have been providing assistance in extinguishing the fires," officials said.
According to the authorities, these operations have also involved the use of an Antonov An-26 transport plane, kitted out with a fan to disperse cartridges of silver iodide into the clouds. 'Seeding' the air with the chemical is understood to cause rain to fall, with rescue workers hoping precipitation will make it easier to fight the fires on the ground.
Some studies, however, have raised concerns that the formula can incapacitate or injure humans and animals below, although these results are disputed. The practice is used in the US to provide relief to drought-hit regions, as well as in other firefighting operations.
Hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest are currently smoldering, with fires threatening towns and villages in the region.
The cause, according to the region's head, Aisen Nikolaev, is global warming. The area, he told journalists, is getting hotter each year. Last year, the remote Siberian town of Verkhoyansk registered a record temperature, with the mercury climbing to 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 Fahrenheit). Meteorological experts blamed freak weather conditions for the event.
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