At least three dead as forest fires rage in southern China
Forest fires have killed at least three people as they swept through several areas of southern China, state media said on Friday, dpa reported.
Fires have broken out in at least six provinces, some of them fanned by high winds in areas hit by drought, the semi-official China News Service said.
At least two people died and two were injured on Thursday near the city of Bijie in the south-western province of Guizhou.
Fires also broke out on Thursday in the south-eastern province of Fujian, forcing the evacuation of 800 people, closing a main road and destroying 1,300 hectares of forest, the agency said.
Fujian mobilized some 3,000 people to fight the fires, but there were no reports of death or injury, it said.
More fires were reported in nine townships of the south-western province of Sichuan and in five counties of neighbouring Yunnan.
Police detained two people in Sichuan after an investigation suggested farmers burning plants to make ash had started the fires, the agency said.
A local official died as he was evacuating villagers in Hunan province from an area where a fire was started by farmers burning a field near the provincial capital.
Another 54 forest fires were reported in Hunan's Chenzhou city on Thursday, while police in the neighbouring province of Hubei detained a farmer accused of starting a fire by leaving dry grass at the foot of a mountain.
Officials in Fujian said fires were under control on Friday after burning for 22 hours and "devastating a swathe of mountain forests" close to villages.
"They are still patrolling the mountains to prevent the blaze breaking out again," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Lu Yueliang, Fujian's deputy forestry chief, as saying.Flames were less than 10 metres from many farmhouses, causing panic in 10 villages, cutting power lines and forcing the cancellation of trains and the closure of a main road, Xinhua said.