Photographers' Blog

Amid fires the air is thick with prayers

August 12, 2010

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, wearing headphones, sits in the cockpit of a firefighting plane in Ryazan region August 10, 2010.   REUTERS/Ria Novosti/Pool/Alexei Nikolsky

The Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin occupied the nation’s TV screens while reports of his bravado in fighting forest wildfires littered the media. The rest of the country were dead on their feet, choking with smoke as they fought the disaster.

Residents attempt to extinguish a fire near the village of Polyaki-Maydan in Ryazan region, some 380 km (236 miles) southeast of Moscow, August 9, 2010.  REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

Unable to depend upon Putin, government authority or new luxury equipment for assistance, locals grew weary as they defended their houses using an arsenal of tractors, farm equipment and shovels.

A man drinks water as he tries to extinguish a forest fire near the village of Polyaki-Maydan in Ryazan region, some 380 km (236 miles) southeast of Moscow, August 9, 2010.   REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

Some relied on their prayers.

A priest blessed firefighters in the village of Berestyanka before they continued on. Local residents conducted religious services asking God for rain to prevent new wildfires like the one that partially destroyed the village of Kriusha on August 5.

Local residents walk amidst heavy smog in the village of Kriusha, affected by wildfires, some 250 km (155 miles) southeast of the capital in the Ryazan region, August 7, 2010.  REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

About one hundred people, mostly elderly women, knelt asking God to forgive their sins. They then followed an Orthodox priest during a procession through the village.

A priest and women take part in a religious procession, asking God for rains to prevent new wildfire outbursts, in the village of Kriusha, shrouded in heavy smog, some 250 km (155 miles) southeast of the capital in Ryazan region, August 7, 2010.  REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

As they walked, the procession appeared to dissolve into heavy white smog, which had shrouded the settlement. Only their prayers were heard. These words drifted out from behind the screen of smoke “You, God Almighty, ask for our houses, people living there and property inside: bless, sanctify with a holy cross, save us from fire.”

People attend a religious service, asking God for rains to prevent new wildfires, in the village of Kriusha, which is shrouded in heavy smog, some 250 km (155 miles) southeast of Moscow in Ryazan region, August 7, 2010.  REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

The local church was burnt. Though residents could only meet with the priest once a week, they still believe and trust in God.

A woman kisses a cross as she attends a religious service, asking God for rains to prevent new wildfire outbursts, in the village of Kriusha, shrouded in heavy smog, some 250 km (155 miles) southeast of the capital in Ryazan region, August 7, 2010.   REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

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