Chinese firefighters die as blaze sweeps forest in Sichuan

Chinese firefighters die as blaze sweeps forest in Sichuan

Chinese firefighters die as blaze sweeps forest in Sichuan

Firefighters are struggling to douse a forest fire that broke out in the mountains of southwestern China on the weekend and killed 30 firefighters, state media said on Monday.

Contact with 30 firefighters was lost.

Rescuers have found 26 bodies and are looking for the other missing crew.

The deaths occurred after a change of wind Sunday as the firefighters were battling the blaze in a rugged area at an altitude of 3,800 metres, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management and the military. Rescue operations and fire containment efforts are still ongoing.

About 690 people had been dispatched to put out the fire in Muli county, which started on Saturday evening, the local authority said.

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China's National Meteorological Center has warned warmer temperatures and lower precipitation compared with previous years have raised the risk of forest fires in the north of the country, Xinhua said.

In Shanxi, 1,500 firefighters battled a blaze that started on Friday afternoon and destroyed almost 3,000 hectares of forest by Sunday.

Almost 3,000 firefighters doused another forest fire in the outskirts of Beijing Sunday. An explosion and subsequent fire at a chemical facility in the northern city of Tianjin killed 173 people in 2015, majority emergency personnel.

In May 1987, the deadliest forest fire in recent Chinese history killed 119 in northeast Heilongjiang province, injuring 102 and leaving 51,000 homeless.

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