Mexican president promises increased fire fighting efforts

11:00, April 13, 2011      

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Mexican President Felipe Calderon promised additional federal support Tuesday for fighting a series of devastating fires in the state of Coahuila in northern Mexico.

The president flew over the affected area Tuesday and met with state and local officials, who have difficulties containing fires that have sustained due to dry weather, ample shrubs and bushes, and strong winds. The fires have engulfed nearly 100,000 hectares of land so far.

"The will of the federal government is to work shoulder to shoulder with state and municipal authorities, with the civil society in Coahuila state, to overcome this emergency and recover forests and pastoral areas that are being lost," Calderon said in the municipality of San Juan de Sabinas, a small town near Nueva Rosita in the center of the arid, coal mining region.

The Mexican government has recently asked U.S. and Canadian governments to provide aerial support for fighting the fires, which are burning near the border with Texas. Calderon revealed plans to deploy a Boeing 747 water bomber and three additional air tankers on Wednesday.

Environmental officials blamed an electrical storm for igniting the fires on March 16. Nearly 900 fire fighters are working to extinguish the flames.

Environment Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada said Tuesday that 5,743 forest fires have taken place in Mexico so far this year, consuming 155,932 hectares of land. Northern Mexico has experienced extraordinarily hot and dry weather in recent weeks.

Calderon said on Tuesday that the Coahuila fires were a result, in part, of climate changes.

Source: Xinhua
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