Forest fires kill five in Nepal

Forest fires kill five in Nepal

2 March 2009

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Nepal — At least five people were killed by wildfires in western Nepal believed to have been deliberately started by poachers, police said Monday.

Five people, including four members of the same family, were burnt alive when they were trapped by raging forest fires on Saturday in Myagdi district, about 250 kilometres west of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.

The five had entered a forest near the village of Gaganpani to collect firewood when the fire engulfed them, police said.

The wildfire started near the village on Friday and spread to a large area aided by high winds and dryweather, destroying hundreds of hectares of forest.

Police, who said the fires were out of control and a pall of smoke had covered the entire area, added they suspected the fire was deliberately started by poachers hunting wildanimals in the forest.

Forest fires are common in Nepal during dry spring season but are mostly contained within days.

However, situation this year has been described as critical because of a long dry spell that has gripped Nepal for the past five months.

Nepal’s meteorological department said much of the country had not received any rain since October and the dryenvironment along with high winds was aiding the forest fires.

No change in weather was expected in the coming days, it added.

Nepal does not have firefighting capabilities to combat forest fires.

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