After a freezing winter, Russia is baking in sweltering heat of a record-hot summer.
Temperatures in the mid-30s Centigrade may be routine for India, but are extraordinary for Russia. On Friday Moscow registered an all-time record temperature of 33 degrees C; more records are likely to be broken over the weekend, when the weather service forecasts up to 37 degrees C.
Elsewhere in Russia the heat is even more scorching. Seventeen regions from the Urals to Siberia have declared a state of emergency as temperatures have soared to 40 degrees Celsius or higher and there has been no rain for weeks.
Russia is facing the worst drought in 130 years. It has so far destroyed crops on 20 per cent of the land sown, causing world wheat prices to spike to a 13-month high on Thursday.
The hot summer came in the wake of a deep freeze that hit Russia last winter, when temperatures in some regions dropped below minus 50 degrees C. While the winter frosts caused municipal water pipes laid two metres below surface to freeze and burst, the summer heat is melting asphalt on Russian roads. About 900 trucks have been pouring cold water on the streets of Moscow two to three times a day in an effort to stop asphalt from softening and causing traffic accidents. Authorities have also begun emergency road repairs, replacing regular asphalt with a hastily developed brand that can withstand higher temperatures.
More than 1,000 Russians seeking relief from heat in lakes and rivers have been drowned in recent months. A majority of those drowned were drunk as Russians refuse to give up booze even in scorching weather, officials said.
The heat has taken its toll on the Kremlin, with traditional weekly parades of presidential honour guards cancelled because of the weather.
An ambulance has been placed on duty outside the Kremlin after an elderly Japanese tourist died at the gates apparently from a heatstroke.
U.S. climate scientists said on Thursday that June was the warmest month across the globe in record, keeping the planet on a course for a hot year.