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Hell on the Road of Bones: Wildfires in Russia’s Far East engulf highway known worldwide for danger & extremely cold temperatures

Videos posted online show how the road is covered in flames, with smoke causing very limited visibility. Earlier in the week, local authorities revealed that they would artificially induce rain to fight against the wildfires. Around 69,000 hectares of wild land were reported to be ablaze.

Constructed during the Soviet era, the Road of Bones was built using forced Gulag labor, and its construction caused the deaths of thousands of prisoners. It is the only road connecting much of the region.

The section engulfed in flames is in Yakutia’s Tattinsky district, a five-hour drive east from the region’s capital Yakutsk.

Yakutia is located in Russia’s far north, around 5,000km away from Moscow. The region is famous for its extremely cold temperatures and is home to the world’s coldest permanently inhabited settlement, Oymyakon. The village, with around 500 residents, regularly drops below -40 degrees Celsius in winter.

However, in recent times, Yakutia’s weather has hit the headlines for its extreme heat. In June last year, the region recorded the highest-ever temperature inside the arctic circle, with the thermometer hitting a scorching 38C (over 100F). At the same time, over a million hectares of Siberian forest were ablaze.

Last winter, an 18-year-old was found dead in his car after he took a wrong turning off the Road of Bones and got stuck in -50C temperatures. The vehicle’s radiator was broken. The teenager’s companion, another man, survived. The two teenagers started driving from Yakutsk to Magadan on November 28 and were not found until December 5.

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