Saturday, September 23, 2023

Over a dozen killed in Kazakhstan forest fires

Fourteen people have been killed in major forest fires in northeastern Kazakhstan, the Central Asian country’s highest such toll in years.

The emergency situations ministry said on Saturday that 316 people had been evacuated but the situation was under control and homes safe, despite the high temperature and the changing direction of the wind hindering the response.

“In total, 14 bodies have been found,” the ministry announced in a statement, having previously announced it was searching for trapped forest rangers as fires consumed 60,000 hectares (148,000 acres) of land.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sacked Emergency Situations Minister Yury Ilyin earlier on Saturday.

More than 1,000 people, mostly from the defence and emergency situations ministries, are taking part in the effort to put out the fires.

The vast fires were started by lightning on Thursday, according to the local authorities in the vast ex-Soviet nation.

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