Afghanistan

Afghanistan Seeks for Help to Put Off Forest Fire

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ISLAMABAD (June 18) XINHUA - The Afghan ruling group, Taliban, Friday renewed appeal for immediate international assistance to extinguish a forest fire in northeastern Afghanistan which has been raging for the last five days.

The fire in the mountainous Kunar province, which broke out last Sunday, has engulfed trees over hundreds of hectares and 10 villages and is rapidly approaching towards Pakistan's border town of Chitral, Taliban's chief representative to Islamabad Maulvi Saeed-ur-Rahman Haqqani told Xinhua.

"We have no resources to deal with the fire and make urgent appeal to the world community for help," he said.

He said the Taliban have no planes to use them for extinguishing the fire and offered Afghanistan's all air bases for foreign planes to help.

"The fire fighters have failed to deal with the huge fire," he said, noting that 500 to 600 people have been fighting the fire for five days but in vain.

According to Haqqani, he contacted the United Nations, the Organization of Islamic Conference and Pakistan for help, however, so far there was no response.

Letters have also been sent to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan for urgent assistance, he said.

The fire is advancing rapidly through Dara Pech valley, some 30 kilometers south of the provincial capital Asadabad.

Local people have been asked to try to contain the fire by felling trees and digging trenches around the burning trees.

Copyright (c) 1999 Comtex Scientific Corporation
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 06/18/1999 01:41:55