Raging forest fire in SW China threatening nature reserve

15:29, March 04, 2010      

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More fire fighters and a helicopter are now countering a fierce fire that broke out in a forest area in southwest China's Guangxi Tuesday.

The fire control headquarters in Longlin Autonomous County in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region confirmed Thursday that the fire has burnt 1,400 Mu (93 hectares) of forest and bush in the mountainous region. The fire's front sprawling 5.3 km is quickly approaching the Zhongshan National Nature Reserve where the protected black-necked pheasant lives.

The reserve has more than 200 black-necked pheasants. The species is on the state's list of first-class endangered animals.

A spokesman for the headquarters said more than 100 professional fire fighters and a Mi-26 helicopter arrived at the fire scene Wednesday and were helping hundreds of locals trying to control the fire.

The worst drought in six decades has resulted in direct economic losses of 1.5 billion yuan (220 million U.S. dollars) in Guangxi, the regional civil affairs bureau said Wednesday.

Over a million people in Guangxi are suffering from drinking water shortages, and 189,190 hectares of crops have been damaged, and a further 31,030 hectares completely destroyed because of the dry weather, the bureau said.

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