Several thousand people in Moscow are believed dead from a recent heat wave just in the month of July alone, according to a Russian scientist. Reuters has reported the same scientist said even more people could die in August.
Russians have been enduring the extreme temperatures of more than 104 degrees since late June. The heat and the dry conditions caused by it has also led to raging wildfires which have killed at least 54 people.
"This situation was absolutely easy to forecast," Boris Revich, a senior demography and ecology researcher at Russia's Academy of Sciences, told a news conference. "The only thing I blame myself for...is that my estimate (of deaths) was too low at the start of the heat."
"But we have never had experience estimating such monstrous heat, merely because we had never had such heat before."
The extreme temperatures have also destroyed nearly a third of Russia's grain crop. Analysts have predicted the fierce heat will stifle the country's economic growth by billions of dollars.
"But what makes the situation in Moscow and other big cities of central Russia different, is this abnormal heat being coupled with a high level of air pollution as a result of forest fires," Revich said. "Nature set up such a grim experiment on us."