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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Israel: 40 students dead as huge wildfire rages through Carmel Mountains

A huge brushfire was raging across the Carmel Mountains near Haifa on Thursday afternoon, resulting in the death of some 40 people and hurting dozens of others, among them prison guards and firemen. 

Update: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, it was earlier reported, has asked Russia, Italy, Greece and Cyprus to help Israel fight the wildfire.
Greece will send firefighting planes to Israel Thursday night, to help fight the in the Carmel Mountains

Firefighters: We lost all control of the fire; Netanyahu turns to allies for help; bus evacuating some 50 prison guards gets caught in the flames, killing 40.

Firefighting crews were still battling with the flames into the evening hours and expressed no hope of controlling the fire soon.

View Northern Israel Fire in a larger map

"We lost all control of the fire," said the Haifa firefighting services spokesman on Thursday. "There aren't enough firefighting resources in Israel in order to put out the fire," he said. 

The 40 individuals who died were students in the Prison Service's prison guard course who were being brought to the Damon Prison to aid in evacuating the prisoners there.

According to an initial investigation of the events, a tree fell down in the middle of the road the bus was taking, trapping the bus between the flames. As a result, 40 of the 50 prison guards who were on the bus died from the flames. Seven individuals were evacuated from the scene in serious condition and transferred to Haifa hospitals.

Firefighting forces have been working without success on putting out the flames since the afternoon hours on Thursday, trying to battle the massive blaze which has already burned down at least 7,000 dunams of natural forest.
Magen David Adom Director General Eli Bin defined the fire as "the worst disaster in Israel's history."

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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