This footage shows fire crews tackling a huge forest blaze in China has claimed the lives of 19 people including 18 firefighters who became engulfed by the inferno after a sudden wind shift.
The tragedy in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, which is in south-western China’s Sichuan Province, began when farmland caught fire at around 3pm local time yesterday (30th March), local officials report.
It was exactly a year to the day when 31 lives, including 27 firemen – were lost during a similar bush fire in the prefecture on 30th March 2019.
According to officials in regional capital Xichang, the forest fire grew to cover around 1,000 hectares and destroyed roughly 80 hectares of forest.
Images show some of the 2,044 firefighters and volunteers who took part in the rescue effort, which involved evacuating more than 1,200 members of the public when the fire threatened to burn down the city’s largest shopping centre, as well as two petrol stations and four schools.
Rescuers from across the prefecture tackled the flames from different fronts as it quickly spread across nearby mountains due to strong winds.
Firefighters sawed down pine forests to create a firebreak, preventing the blaze from reaching a storage facility with some 250 tonnes of petroleum, the local government reported.
Small patches continue to burn today (31st March).
Officials confirmed they discovered the bodies of 18 firefighters and one local guide who died in the fire.
The 21-man firefighting unit assisting from Ningnan County was en route when a wind shift left them surrounded and then engulfed in flames, reports said.
Three surviving members were found alive and transported to a local hospital at 7am local time today.
The exact cause of the fire was still unclear at the time of writing.
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