Spain appeals to Europe for help tackling Galician crisis

9th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

9 August 2006, GALICIA – Spain has asked fellow countries of the European Union to help it tackle the "catastrophe" in Galicia where over a 100 forest fires are still burning.

9 August 2006

GALICIA – Spain has asked fellow countries of the European Union to help it tackle the "catastrophe" in Galicia where over a 100 forest fires are still burning.

Spain’s interior minister has asked other EU countries for help through an appeal to the Commission’s civil protection mechanism.

It says it needs the loan of three planes, five helicopters and 20 special fire-fighting lorries.

On Wednesday afternoon, prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero broke off his summer holiday in Lanzarote to visit the region. His office said he would return to his family on Thursday after surveying the situation in Galicia and talking with the authorities there.

His visit came after that of environment minister Cristina Narbona.

She admitted the situation was "a catastrophe" and "had got worse" despite the increase in resources to tackle the fires, which have been sent from the autonomous regions of Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha, Castilla y Leon, Extremadura, Asturias, Aragon, the Balearic Islands, Valencia and Navarra.

"The chain of deliberate fires makes it impossible to act efficiently", she said, stating that as fire-fighters put out one blaze, another is started.

On Wednesday afternoon, 110 fires were still burning in Galicia, 67 of which were active and 43 of which were thought to be under control.

The worst affected provinces continue to be Pontevedra and La Coruna.

In the last 24 hours, 19 fires have also been recorded in the region Castilla y Leon. Twelve have been put out, five controlled and two are still active.

The authorities have appealed to the public to report arsonists, pointing out that the majority of the fires this summer are intentional, although some have also been started by careless people throwing away smouldering cigarette butts.

Four people have so far been arrested, including one 60-year-old man who has been remanded in custody in Santiago de Compostela on charges of arson.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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