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Deadly wildfires rage through Catalonia

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-07-23

At least three people were killed after wildfires blazed through north-eastern Spain Sunday, the regional Catalan government said. Cross-border transportation linking Barcelona to France has also been suspended.

AP - Two people jumped in the sea and died as they fled a raging wildfire in northeastern Spain, where flames fanned by strong winds also forced the closure of one the main roads linking Spain and France.

Another person died of a heart attack while dousing flames around his home in , while 24 others were wounded, officials said.

Train services in the region were suspended and several cross-border roads linking Barcelona with France were closed because of the advancing flames, regional government spokesman Felip Puig said Sunday.

The two people fell to their deaths after jumping into the sea as they tried to escape fires that had engulfed cars on a road near Portbou, the regional fire department said.

State broadcaster TVE said several cars had been forced to stop on the highway to avoid driving into sections that were being swept by flames and efforts were being made to reach the occupants.

“The situation on the roads of the area is very complicated,” the fire service said in a statement. The main highway linking Spain with France through La Jonquera had been closed.

Santiago Villa, mayor of Figueres, which houses the famous Salvador Dali museum, said he had ordered the city’s 44,000 residents to stay indoors until further notice.

The fire service said in a statement that more than 80 teams had been deployed to combat the wildfires, which appear to have started close to the border with France.

The statement said about 13,000 hectares (32,000 acres) had been consumed by the fires. Residents of the area were told to stay indoors until conditions improve.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that it had sent three specially equipped aircraft and an emergency unit from Zaragoza to aid Catalan firefighters.

State broadcaster TVE said in a late news bulletin that high winds were making it difficult for firefighting aircraft to function to their full potential.

Eight of the injured were in serious condition, TVE said.

Spain’s rail company Renfe said in a statement that international high

speed trains linking Catalonia with France using the Portbou and Pertus tunnels through the Pyrenees mountains had been cancelled due to the firest.

A north wind called the Tramontana is a regular feature of life in mountainous northeastern Spain and its strong gusts, which can often exceed 100 mph (160 kph), can spread fires rapidly across the heavily forested area.

Date created : 2012-07-22


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