Georgian bushfires still burning

Georgian bushfires still burning

18 August 2008

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Georgia — Bushfires in a Georgian national park that Georgia accuses Russia of starting deliberately have swept across 200 hectares of land and are still burning.

Russia, which invaded swathes of Georgia on August 8, denies setting the national park ablaze.

The Georgian foreign ministry said yesterday that the Borjomi Gorge in south-west Georgia had been targeted by Russian helicopters dropping firebombs in a dozen locations.

“Fires in the Borjomi forests are still continuing. There was unfortunately no progress in the fight against the fires,” Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said today.

“Two hundred hectares have been burned down.”

The Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, about 125 kilometres south-west of Tbilisi, is the source of Borjomi mineral water – one of Georgia’s most celebrated exports.

A Russian defence ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by state news agency RIA Novosti that Russia has “nothing to do with the forest fire in Borjomi. If the Georgians come to us, we are ready to help them extinguish it”.

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