FAO launches online platform to monitor wildfires

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The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation launched Wednesday an online platform to monitor fires around the world through satellite information as wildfires have been ravaging Russia for two weeks now.

The Global Fire Information Management System, developed in collaboration with the University of Maryland in the northeastern US, aggregates information sent by the satellites of US's space arm NASA, FAO said in a statement.

The free website displays fire hotspots on a map within 2.5 hours of their start and allows users to receive email alerts on specific areas affected by fires.

It is available in Spanish, English and French.

"The GFIMS has been launched at a time when the incidence of megafires tends to increase," said FAO Forestry Officer Pieter van Lierop, who is responsible for the organisation's activities in fire management.

Following what meteorologists have called the worst heatwave in the 1,000 years of recorded history, wildfires in Russia have burned hundreds of thousands of hectares of land, killed at least 54 people, ravaged villages, military bases and threatened nuclear sites and cities.

© 2010 AFP

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