At least 19 killed in wildfires across Nepal

   At least 19 killed in wildfires across Nepal

28 April 2009

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Nepal — According to local Nepal media, satellite images from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) show at least 420 wildfires burning across Nepal. said that Nepal’s wildfire situation is the largest and most dangerous in South Asia, according to the NASA pictures.

The newspaper reported that experts and officials met at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation on Sunday (April 26).

The ministry has decided to recommend that the Home Ministry declare a national crisis in order to get the situation under control, following the advice of the experts.

The Department of Forests has directed all district forest offices to coordinate with the district administration, Nepal Army, police and locals, Nepalnews reported.

Wildfires are normal during the dry season in Nepal, but fires have reportedly increased markedly this year compared to last because of a prolonged drought, Nepalnews reported.

Kantipur Online reported that the Regional Forest Directorate Pokhara said that more than 178,000 acres (72,000 hectares) of forest in 13 districts of the Western Region have been destroyed.

Thirteen army personnel lost their lives in Ramechhap in Central Nepal on Thursday (April 23) while a soldier and four locals in Gulmi district in the western region were killed Saturday (April 25) when they were trying to extinguish wildfires, local media reported.

Another person was reported killed Saturday in Dang district.

Dozens of others have reportedly died this year due to fires.

According to the Xinhua news agency, although there are no confirmed reports as to who started some of the fires, forest officials suspect poachers and shepherds could have started some of the fires, which were then fanned by winds.

According to Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Nepal does not have the necessary equipment or fire fighting teams to combat the fires.

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