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Over 60 killed, 280 injured by fire across Russia in 24 hours

MOSCOW, January 8 (RIA Novosti) - Sixty-one people have been killed and 283 injured by fire in different parts of Russia in the past 24 hours, the emergencies ministry said on Tuesday.

"In the past 24 hours, 613 fires have been reported, killing 61 and injuring 283; 222 people have been rescued," the ministry said in a statement posted on its official Web site.

It provided no details about the causes of the fires or exactly where they had occurred.

A total of 33 fires were reported in the Russian capital on January 5, leaving four people killed and one injured, the ministry said.

It said previously over 60 people, including 17 children, had been injured by fireworks in Moscow since December 1.

The accidents were caused by improper handling of crackers and fireworks.

Interior Ministry data suggests fireworks have injured about 2,700 people, including some 700 children, all across Russia in the last seven years.

A Pyrotechnics 2007 police operation was held from December 20-30 throughout Russia. Counterfeit fireworks to the tune of 28.5 million rubles ($1.2 million) were seized. Last year's operation seized some 250 million rubles ($10.1 million) worth of unlicensed fireworks.

Moscow has loose laws regulating the public use of fireworks, and this has contributed to the high incidence of accidents involving fireworks, officials say.

New regulations, which came into force on January 1, prohibit the use of fireworks in public places. Violators will face fines of 1,500-2,000 rubles ($60-80).

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