Balochistan forest inferno rages on

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Iranian firefighting aircraft to join operation

A firefighting airplane provided by Iran is expected to start aiding in efforts to extinguish the forest fire which has been raging since days in Balochistan’s Koh-i-Suleman range, Forest Officer Ateeq Karar said on Monday.

A spokesperson for the Iranian consulate in Quetta said that the plane, Ilyushin 76, is the “biggest firefighter aircraft” in the world and would land at Rawalpindi’s Nur Khan Airbase today. The airplane would remain in Pakistan till the fire has been extinguished, the spokesperson added.

The fire in the Shirani forest started a week ago after the area was struck by lightning and has since engulfed hundreds of trees dotting the mountain range, home to the world’s largest pine nuts (chilghoza) forest and connecting Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. It has now turned into a raging inferno, forcing several residents of nearby villages to move to safer locations. Different species of animals and birds are also under threat. The army, provincial and federal disaster management authorities and other departments are struggling to douse the flames. Three people have lost their lives so far while three others have been badly injured.

 

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