Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Haute Couture: the hand-stitched clothing made in Paris that sells for the price of small yachts

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Caution, another Cast Lead lies ahead'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Rising into the ranks of Haute Couture

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: How to Stop the Spiral? Israel Readies For Ground Offensive (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

A thin line between fact-checking and propaganda in Gaza social media coverage

Read more

#THE 51%

Sweden: A Feminist's Paradise?

Read more

FOCUS

Ireland's missing babies cast light on dark history

Read more

WEB NEWS

World Cup 2014: Germany-Brazil inspires the Web

Read more

  • Amazon snubs French free delivery ban with one-cent charge

    Read more

  • Are French high school students getting smarter?

    Read more

  • Disgraced Suarez leaves Liverpool for Barcelona

    Read more

  • Kurdish forces take over two oilfields in northern Iraq

    Read more

  • In Pictures: Petrol station hit by Hamas rockets

    Read more

  • Manhunt as FIFA partner flees Rio hotel to avoid arrest

    Read more

  • Video: Living in Tel Aviv, under threat of rocket attack

    Read more

  • Video: Palestinians fear full Israeli military offensive in Gaza

    Read more

  • US prepared to negotiate Gaza ceasefire, Obama says

    Read more

  • French companies will have to accept anonymous CVs

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces close in on Donetsk

    Read more

  • Germany asks US intelligence station chief to leave country

    Read more

  • Video: Muslims in China confront obstacles to Ramadan fasting

    Read more

  • Tour de France passes WWI Chemin des Dames battlefield

    Read more

  • Senegalese man awarded French visa in gay marriage debate

    Read more

Europe

Thousands evacuated from homes as forest fires rage on

©

Video by Fiona CAMERON

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-08-03

Hundreds of firefighters Sunday battled a huge forest fire raging on the holiday island of La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands which has forced thousands to flee their homes.

AFP - Hundreds of firefighters Sunday battled a huge forest fire raging on the holiday island of La Palma in Spain's Canary Islands which has forced thousands to flee their homes.
   
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who began his summer holiday earlier Sunday on another Canary island, Lanzarote, was due to visit La Palma later in the day to view the situation first hand.
   
Around 500 firefighters, forest rangers and soldiers fought the flames on the small island as planes dumped water in an effort to bring the blaze under control.
   
Fanned by a strong wind, the fire has now devastated between 1,500 and 2,000 hectares (3,700 to 4,940 acres) of pine forest since it broke out Friday night, local authority president Guadalupe Gonzalez Tano told reporters.
   
The fire was now spreading on two fronts, down from three fronts on Saturday when the fast-moving inferno forced some 4,000 people to evacuate their homes.
   
The wind direction also changed and was now blowing against the progress of the fire, local authorities said, adding that they hoped to bring it under control on Sunday.
   
In addition, one of the two fronts was heading towards a sparsely forested area of volcanic rock, which would act as a natural firewall, they said.
   
But one fire close to the southeastern town of Mazo remained out of control.
   
"I hope that the wind will help us so that the air and land (fire) services can contain it," said Mazo's mayor, Francisco Javier Gonzalez.
   
He said the change in the weather since Saturday has already meant that flames were advancing more slowly.
   
La Palma, home to some 85,000 people, is the fifth largest of the seven islands in the Canaries, located in the Atlantic off the coast of Morocco and a a popular tourist destination.
   
But the volcanic island is relatively undeveloped compared to some of its neighbours, such as Gran Canaria and Tenerife.
   
Meanwhile, authorities in Spain's northeastern region of Aragon said fires were still raging near the town of Calatayud and had destroyed some 700 hectares of forest.
   
Police have arrested two people in connection with that blaze, which broke out on Saturday.
   
Since the start of this year, fires have ravaged some 75,000 hectares of land in Spain, almost double the number for the whole of 2008. Of that, some 45,000 hectares have been destroyed in the past two weeks.
   
Eight people, six of them firefighters, have died in the fires on the Spanish mainland since last month.
   
Spain lost 155,000 hectares to fire in 2005 and another 188,000 hectares in 2006 but was spared major wildfire damage in the past two years, the exception being the Canaries which suffered major blazes in 2007.

Date created : 2009-08-02

Comments

COMMENT(S)