Monday, March 10, 2008

Six People Die in Forest Fire on China

This initially was reported on March 3 by Reuters:
BEIJING, March 3 (Reuters) - Six villagers died in central China's Hunan province as they tried to battle a forest fire in an area ravaged by severe winter storms, state media said on Monday.

The fire broke out on Saturday, trapping more than 200 people in the village of Xitai, Xinhua news agency reported. "The main cause can be attributed to illegal fires set in the forests," Xinhua quoted Hu Changqing, vice head of the Hunan Forestry Department, as saying.

Forest fires had killed 22 people in the mountainous southern province this year and more than 1,500 forest fires had raged in 89 counties since Feb. 6, Xinhua said.

China's most bitter winter in decades had left Hunan's forests vulnerable to fires, Xinhua said, as heavy snowfalls collapsed power lines and tree branches. "The broken tree branches and the heating and lighting facilities left by the snow disaster relief teams in the forest have become very dangerous now and should be cleared as soon as possible," the agency quoted Xu Minghua, Hunan's vice governor, as saying.

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