Israeli bushfire continues to burn out of control

Israeli bushfire continues to burn out of control

Israel's largest-ever bushfire raged uncontrollably Friday night, taunting efforts by exhausted fire teams to battle the blaze as it threatened areas previously untouched by the flames, dpa reported.

By late evening, around 36 hours after it began, the fire, which broke out on the Carmel hill south-east of the northern city of Haifa, had claimed 42 lives, destroyed more than 8,500 acres of parched, drought-stricken land and devoured more than 4 million trees, and forced 17,000 people from 14 locations to flee their homes.

Aided by unseasonably warm weather and strong winds, which showed no signs of abetting overnight, the flames were approaching Haifa University, which sits atop the Carmel, on the south-eastern outskirts of the city.

The adjacent suburb of Daniya, some of whose residents had been evacuated shortly after midnight Friday, was under renewed threat, with the blaze only 1 kilometre away, though officials said there was no immediate danger to homes there.

New, smaller fires broke out during the day, while the main blaze was reigniting in some locations where it had been doused earlier, but with the fall of darkness around 5 pm local time (1500 GMT), firefighting aircraft, some of which had been dispatched from European countries, were forced to halt operations.

The planes were set to resume flying at first light Saturday, reinforced by aircraft capable of carrying larger loads of water, which had arrived during the day in Israel. Hopes were especially being pinned on a Russian airplane that landed late Friday in Israel with a capacity of 42,000 litres.

Fire crews on the ground were expected to work throughout the night but with little hope of being able to contain the fire, much less extinguish it.

National Police Commissioner David Cohen told journalists Friday evening that it was impossible to say the fire was under control, but he hoped by Saturday this would change.

He said the fire had one ignition point, and it was possible that by Saturday special investigators could determine whether it was caused by deliberate arson or negligence.

Haifa Fire Service spokesman Chezi Levy told reporters that the ignition point had been burning garbage in a yard of a house in the village of Usafiyah.

Police on Friday afternoon arrested two men who reportedly threw a Molotov cocktail in the forest close to where the fire was raging. Cohen told journalists later that the two were not linked to the blaze, nor to the fires that had broken out north of Haifa during the day and which were thought to have been the result of arson attacks.

"We are in the midst of a disaster of international proportions," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an emergency cabinet session Friday morning in Tel Aviv, before taking off to tour the disaster area by helicopter.

The blaze broke out before noon Thursday. Huge flames sent sparks into the sky, prompting one witness to remark that the Carmel hill looked like "a volcano."

Thirty-six of the 42 fatalities were prison service cadets, sent to help evacuate inmates from a prison in the path of the flames on Thursday. Their bus was engulfed by the fire, which left nothing more than the charred frame of the vehicle.

A nature photographer, Roni Sofer, who headed the convoy in his jeep, described to the daily Yediot Ahronot how "at one of the bends in the road, there was again a wall of fire facing me, about 30 meters high, an unfathomable sight."

Survivors said most of the cadets managed to get off the bus but did not stand a chance of outracing the fire by foot.

Some 900 inmates from two prisons in the area were safely evacuated.

Four Greek planes and a Hercules cargo plane from Bulgaria with some 150 firefighters on board joined the effort. Countries such as Turkey and Cyprus sent around 20 planes and helicopters and other equipment arrived Friday.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio that Israel had turned to Germany for help, which in turn had asked Turkey for assistance, prompting Ankara to send two planes - despite its marred relations with Israel.

US President Barack Obama has offered condolences to the families of the victims. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad called Israeli President Shimon Peres to express condolences.

UK retail sales growth beat expectations in September
UK retail sales growth beat expectations in September
German Commerzbank ready to expand partnership with Turkmenistan
German Commerzbank ready to expand partnership with Turkmenistan
Britain signs first major post-Brexit trade deal with Japan
Britain signs first major post-Brexit trade deal with Japan
Loading Bars
Azerbaijan's Az-Granata hikes 9M2020 revenues from export of its products
Azerbaijan's deputy PM appeals to Russia regarding Russian MP's illegal visit to Karabakh
Namakhvani HPP project - energy project of century, Georgian minister says
Kazakhstan's electric power distributing company opens tender for transformers installation
Azerbaijan destroys another UAV of Armenian troops
Persimmons export from Uzbekistan increases for 9M2020
Georgia reveals volume of exported persimmons
Volume of electricity generated by Turkmenistan’s Mary power plant revealed
Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office gives updates on civil casualties, damages
There is no future for second Armenia within internationally designated borders of Azerbaijan - Azerbaijani FM
Protest rally against Ganja terror was held in Budapest
Prices of Azerbaijani oil continue to grow
The slogan “Karabakh is Azerbaijan” was raised at the rally of the US President
Karabakh conflict will continue until Pashinyan admits reality - Russian general
Uzbekistan, St. Korea to expand effective mechanisms for info exchange in tax area
Georgia reports 1,759 new coronavirus cases, 350 recoveries
Uzbekistan’s Central Bank keeps refinancing rate unchanged
Kazakhstan increases import of cars from Turkey
Armenia must draw conclusions from Moscow's clear position on Karabakh conflict - Turkish government
Co-financed areas to be increased in Georgia
Four more Armenian UAVs neutralized - MoD
Non-resident investors' interest in securities issued by Georgian government grows
Armenian Armed Forces intensively shelling Tartar, Aghdam and Aghjabadi districts - MoD
Azerbaijan discloses information about flora, fauna of occupied territories
Uzbekhydroenergo to directly attract financing in international markets, Fitch Ratings
Why Kashmiris around the world celebrate 27 October as a Black Day?
UK retail sales growth beat expectations in September
Uzbekistan’s 9M2020 volume of financial services revealed
UN Country Office ready to provide humanitarian aid to affected people in Azerbaijan
Emerson gets multi-million dollar contract for Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli
Georgia approves air quality management plan for Rustavi
Turkmenistan names volume of planned rice harvesting in Lebap region
Armenian appeal to NATO is another misleading diplomatic offensive of Yerevan - US expert
A framework agreement of cooperation between IsDB and Standard Chartered Bank
IsDB Group and UAE Ministry of Economy co-organise first digital edition of Annual Investment Meeting on 20-22 October 2020
Oil demand for petrochemicals to decline in advanced world
Famous UK-based poetess of Azerbaijani origin appeals on Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan (VIDEO)
First mobile connection in Karabakh!
Global demand for jet fuel to peak around 2030
Diesel consumption to peak later this decade
Azerbaijani currency rates for October 23
Iran and Russia to lift visa requirements
German Commerzbank ready to expand partnership with Turkmenistan
OSCE Minsk Group's co-chairman from Russia goes to US Washington for meetings on Karabakh
Almost all countries to see lower oil demand in 2021 than in 2019
Iran lifts rice import ban
Timing of US Secretary of State's meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister announced
Members of Nizami Ganjavi International Center send letter President Aliyev
Oil prices to be higher than projected levels in 2020
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for October 23
Iran reduces cars imports from Turkey
Azerbaijan's 9M2020 exports to Ukraine increases
Cars export to Georgia decreases, Turkish Ministry of Trade
Processes automation and robotization in digitalization of fuel and energy complex carried in Kazakhstan
Cars export from Turkey to Iraq decreases for 9M2020
Ambassador Extraordinary, Plenipotentiary of Japan to Turkmenistan completes diplomatic mission
UN comments on upcoming meeting of Azerbaijan, Armenian Foreign Ministers in Washington
Azerbaijani soldier addresses people in connection with coronavirus (VIDEO)
Azerbaijan - our home, our homeland, says Azerbaijani soldier of Jewish origin (VIDEO)
Latest situation at front line on Oct. 23
Servicemen of Armenia refused to get engaged in battles and left their positions - Azerbaijani MoD
Important territories, high grounds liberated as result of operations by Azerbaijan Army - MoD
Azerbaijan approves procedure for maintaining personal records of insured persons
Amount of value added tax paid by private sector down in Georgia
Georgia reveals number of subscribers of five largest providers
Income of Internet providers operating in Georgia up
Britain signs first major post-Brexit trade deal with Japan
Kazakhstan’s total number of COVID-19 cases surpasses 110,000
Israeli aircraft attack Gaza military sites in response to rockets firing
Chinese mainland reports no new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases
Intel reports 4 pct drop in third quarter revenue
U.S. sanctions three new Iranian organizations for alleged election disinformation
Israel says Gazan militants fire 2 rockets into southern Israel
Turkey confirms 2,102 daily COVID-19 patients, 355,528 in total
Moscow records another 62 coronavirus deaths
Trump tests negative for coronavirus ahead of debate: aide
France extends curfew as COVID second wave surges in Europe
Armenians commit provocation during sanctioned protest action of Azerbaijani youth in Poland (PHOTO)
WHO reports record daily rise in coronavirus cases across the globe
ANAMA disseminates info on missile attack on Azerbaijan’s Kurdamir by Armenia (PHOTO)
Car exports to Israel declines, Turkish Trade Ministry
Situation when significant part of Azerbaijan's territory is lost can't last forever, Vladimir Putin
Armenia discloses number of servicemen killed by Azerbaijani army
We already started to plan our future agricultural development with respect of liberation of territories - President Aliyev
Without normalization of relations with Turkey and with Azerbaijan Armenia has no future - President Aliyev
If Armenia makes constructive steps and liberate territories of course, we will open all communications - President of Azerbaijan
Popular Front Party, and Musavat Party going against national interests of Azerbaijan - President Aliyev
With TAP pipeline everything is on the schedule, says president of Azerbaijan
If any country assumes role of mediator, this country must be neutral, says Azerbaijani president
International monitors, peace-keeping forces one of last issues, which had to be addressed - President Aliyev
All the regions of Azerbaijan must be liberated, says President Ilham Aliyev
Azerbaijan is fighting itself, we don’t need any foreign fighters - President Aliyev
There will be no referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh - President Aliyev
If we are attacked, we must not only defend ourselves, but also launch a counter-attack - President Aliyev
Our refugees and internally displaced persons must return to all the occupied territories - President Aliyev
We must have decisive say about international monitors, says Azerbaijani president
If Minsk Group for 30 years cannot produce results, it speaks for itself - President Aliyev
WHO roots for rapid diagnostic tests to boost COVID-19 war in Africa
Kazakhstan to boost export of agricultural products to SCO markets
Int'l organizations informed about rocket attacks on Azerbaijani regions (PHOTO)
All news