Thousands fighting to put out fire in India forests

May 2, 2016 6:30 am

Deadly fires engulf ’s remote forests of northern state of Uttakharand. (file photo)

India has deployed thousands of people backed by water-carrying helicopters to fight a raging fire in the forests of the northern state of Uttarakhand, which have claimed the lives of six people so far.
The first flames of fire started early in February, but officials say they have intensified in recent days, sweeping through more than 1,900 hectares (4,700 acres) of forest.
The state’s senior disaster management official Piyoosh Rautela said two people have been killed in recent days, although local media put the number of casualties at six since the fire started.
He said a team of disaster relief experts were also being deployed to help those already on the ground.
“They are all working with two Indian Air Force choppers which are spraying water over isolated forest areas in the state,” he said.

The government has deployed two MI-17 helicopters to spray fire on the flames in Uttakharand forests. (file photo)

The fires, broken out at 1,200 locations in the densely forested Himalayan state, have so far not threatened towns in Uttarakhand, Rautela  said.
The state with its Himalayan mountains, rivers, treks, and Hindu sites, sees tens of thousands of tourists every year.
Officials said the forests are spread across six districts, but the districts are isolated and that “we are getting them under control.”
They said it was not clear what caused the fires, but some attributes the fires to sever drought conditions and an extreme heat wave. Some 300 people have died of heat-related problems this month across the country.
India is having its worst water crisis in recent years, with a quarter of its population suffering from drought after the last two monsoons failed.
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