Lebanon loses masses of forest in devastating wildfires

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 17 October 2019

A state of environmental emergency was declared in Lebanon on Tuesday night by its Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati, after devastating wildfires destroyed more than double the number of trees normally lost to fires each year.

The Middle Eastern country called for international help earlier this week to battle hundreds of forest fires which broke out on Monday. Cyprus, Greece, and Jordan helped with the efforts to quell the flames.

The fires were the worst in decades and according to the BBC, a volunteer firefighter in the Chouf region south-east of Beirut died, as did two forestry workers in the north-western region of Latakia.

Sana news agency said that eight more were injured in the flames, which were brought under control by Wednesday.

‘Tens of civil defence teams from across Lebanon had managed to contain a number of the blazes by Tuesday night with the help of Lebanese Army helicopters and two firefighting planes provided by Cyprus. Then, moderate rains put out most and by Wednesday, most had been extinguished or brought under control.’ reported Al Jazeera.

Recorded in Biblical texts, Lebanon is famous for its giant cedar trees, one of which features on its flag. Image: Wikipedia.

 

According to the news agency, the latest assessment by George Mitri, director of the land and natural resources programme at the University of Balamand, ‘found that between 1,300-1,500 hectares of forest were lost over 48 hours.’

‘Added to the 1,300 hectares already lost this year, it means the country has doubled its yearly average of forest loss.’

Environment Minister Fadi Jreissati has called on people to work together to support reforestation efforts.

Ghana has responded to the crisis and said that it was ready to provide saplings to Lebanon.

 

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The wildfires are raging southeast of Beirut in the Mount Lebanon mountain range. Fueled by high temperatures and strong winds, it’s still unclear what initially caused the fires. Some residents have had to evacuate their homes and villages. The fires were described by Lebanon’s Civil Defense director-general, Raymond Khattar, as the worst the country has experienced in decades. The Lebanese government is facing criticism for its handling of the fires, as three fire-fighting aircraft purchased three years ago have remained at the Beirut airport without being maintained, according to the Associated Press. Cyprus, Greece and Jordan have all deployed aircrafts in response to Lebanon’s calls for international assistance. At least three people have died while fighting the fires, one in Lebanon and two in Syria. The Red Cross announced it has treated more than 70 people for fire-related injuries. (📝: @olivianiland, 📸: Getty, AP, Reuters) . . . #lebanon #fires #wildfires #lebanon🇱🇧 #lebanonfires #prayforlebanon🇱🇧 #Beirut #middleeast

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Wildfires in Beirut Lebanon from GulfNewsTV on Vimeo.

 

Image: Instagram






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