Five dead in Ukrainian forest fire

Kiev (AFP) –


Five people died and nine more were taken to hospital following a forest fire in eastern Ukraine, emergency services said on Tuesday.

The fire broke out in the Lugansk region, partially under the control of pro-Russia separatists, and was raging over an area of some 80 hectares (200 acres) the services said.

After initially being brought partially under control the blaze spread aided by gusts of wind and soaring temperatures hitting 38 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit) around the village of Smolianynove.

More than 120 houses were incinerated in an area barely 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the front line of fighting.

The office of President Volodymyr Zelensky, who convened a meeting with his interior minister and other officials, said more than 350 firefighters and rescue workers were at the scene.

Spring wildfires earlier this year ravaged more than 66,000 hectares in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl in northern Ukraine, scene of one of the world's worst nuclear accidents in 1986.