Forest fires rage in Lebanon

Forest fires rage in Lebanon

8 November 2007

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Beirut. Lebanon — Fires have destroyed dozens of hectares of woodlandsacross Lebanon, just weeks after earlier forest fires devastated mountainousparts of the country, an army spokesman said today.

“A total of 1,542 dunums (154 hectares) were destroyed yesterday andthis morning, in addition to the 807 dunums (81 hectares) burnt on Monday,”the spokesman who did not wish to be identified told AFP.

Emergency crews backed by army helicopters struggled to extinguish blazesthat were still raging across southern and northern Lebanese mountains, as wellas in the Shouf region southeast of Beirut, he said.

The flames have destroyed forests of pine and oak trees as well as olivegroves, valleys and woods, but there were no reports of casualties.

Similar forest fires raged twice in October, killing one woman, injuringdozens of people and destroying hundreds of hectares of forests and woods acrossthe country.

Experts have warned that seasonal forest fires in Lebanon are furtherthreatening to destroy the country’s natural wealth – among the richest in theMiddle East.

Zeina Tamim, an agriculture ministry official, told AFP last month that theseasonal forest fires were slowly destroying green zones which account for 23percent of Lebanon’s territory.

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