Israel fire kills 40
ISRAEL: A huge fire killed 40 people, most of them prison
guards, when it tore through a forest near Haifa in northern Israel
Thursday, prompting urgent calls for international help to tackle the
Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance service confirmed it had recovered
the bodies of 40 people who died in the inferno, the worst blaze in
Israel’s 62-year history.
“Most of the dead were on board the bus,” MDA spokesman Zachi Heller
said, referring to a coach which was carrying prison guards who had been
en route to evacuate prisoners from Damon jail in the middle of the
Carmel national park.
Rescue workers were still searching for an unspecified number of
people, among them at least two police officers listed as missing,
A police source earlier told AFP all the dead were prison guards who
had been on board the bus. Haifa’s police chief, who had been driving in
a police vehicle next to the bus, was critically injured, medical and
police sources said.
Shortly after midnight, police said strong winds had caused the fire
to reach the southern part of Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, with a
population of more than 265,000 people.
“Stronger winds mean we have started evacuating the southern Deniya
neighbourhood,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
More than 12,000 people had already been evacuated from the towns and
villages across the area, as well as from three prisons and a hospital
south of the city, he said.
Twelve hours after the fire broke out, it was still raging out of
control despite intensive efforts to control it, with fire officials
saying the inferno had incinerated at least 8,000 dunams (2,000 acres,
800 hectares) of land.
“It’s very big, it’s now on the west side of the Carmel mountains,”
fire service spokesman Yoram Levy told AFP. “It’s spreading.” HAIFA,