, MOSCOW, Aug 30 – The number of deaths rose by 50 percent in Moscow in July amid the country\’s worst ever heatwave, Russia\’s health ministry said Monday, admitting it was slow to react to the extreme conditions.
"July 2010 in Russia saw abnormally high temperatures that immediately pushed up death rates from blood circulation illnesses," the health ministry said in a statement, the first official confirmation of a spike in deaths.
"The highest growth in mortality rate — 50.7 percent — was registered in Moscow," it said releasing year-on-year data for July.
In July and part of August, Muscovites sweltered in record temperatures and smouldering peat fires in the surrounding region swathed the city in choking grey smog.
The state statistics service said that 14,340 people died in Moscow in July, up from 9,516 people in the same period last year.
Federal authorities had earlier refused to give details of the Moscow death toll.
Health and Social Development Minister Tatiana Golikova rebuked Moscow\’s chief doctor, Andrei Seltsovsky, after he complained earlier this month that daily death rates had nearly doubled and city morgues were overflowing.
The health ministry acknowledged that it had been slow to respond to the emergency and vowed to draw conclusions.
"The increased death rates in July 2010 can bear witness to the lack of a dynamic response of the health care system in extreme conditions," the statement said.
The ministry pledged to draw conclusions and conduct a "thorough analysis."
In Russia as a whole, mortality rates in July grew by 8.6 percent to 182,020, the state statistics service said.
A 45-percent spike in the number of drownings contributed to the higher death rates across the country, the health ministry said.