Sarkozy calls forest fire arsonists 'murderers'

5th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

MARIGNANE, France, Aug 5 (AFP) - French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday called arsonists behind a series of forest fires "murderers" as he attended the funerals of two pilots whose fire-fighting aircraft crashed early this week.

MARIGNANE, France, Aug 5 (AFP) - French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday called arsonists behind a series of forest fires "murderers" as he attended the funerals of two pilots whose fire-fighting aircraft crashed early this week.

"Those who started these fires are criminals, murderers, and murderers must be made to pay," he said before the two flag-draped coffins.

Eighty pilots of Canadair water-bombing aircraft paid homage to their colleagues, pilot Ludovic Piasentin, 49, and co-pilot Jean-Louis de Benedict, 55, whose plane crashed on the French island of Corsica on Monday. Both men were posthumously decorated with Legion of Honour medals.

The 10 remaining Canadair planes used by France's emergency services have been grounded pending a full inspection of the fleet triggered by the crash.

Sarkozy said he expected the findings to be submitted on Saturday, and promised that the Canadair plane and another aircraft, a Tracker, which crashed last month with no loss of life, would be replaced.

In addition, a new plane capable of carrying more water to battle blazes, a Dash 8, would be operational from next week, he said.

Southern France and Corsica frequently suffers summer forest fires, some of which are deliberately lit.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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