Several arrested and 2,000ha of forests destroyed by fires | Tunisia News Gazette

Several arrested and 2,000ha of forests destroyed by fires

Six people in connection to the fires that have erupted recently in certain regions have been placed into custody in Jendouba and Bizerte, National Guard Spokesman Khalifa Chibani confirmed on Saturday.

According to preliminary investigations, most of the people involved in these fires are temporary construction workers recruited than laid off, he said at a press conference held Saturday at the Kasbah Palace.

They would have ignited the fires in hope of being engaged in the security forces’ interventions to contain the flames.

Chibani added that different family disputes on the ownership of several lands and the desire to set up pastures would also have caused the fires, in addition to criminal motives, natural factors linked to rising temperatures and the vegetation nature.

Till this hour, nothing proves that terrorist groups are behind these fires, he affirmed, noting that a co-ordination is established with Algeria in the security and fires field. The situation is under control, he pointed out.

For his part, Director General of Forests at the Agriculture Ministry Habib Abid presented statistics on the fires recorded in the forests annually destroying 1,300 hectares.

In this respect, he noted that the number of fires has increased between 2011 and 2014 and declined between 2015 and 2016.

According to Abid, the situation was stable till July 29. Fourteen fires were recorded at the beginning of August. The Regional disaster committee has been convened.

Tens of fires have been brought under control at the same time where other fires erupted which raised suspicions behind their origins, he noted, adding that new measures have been taken to control the fires in Sejnane.

Representative of the Defence Ministry Colonel Mouldi Al Yahmadi stressed that 500 servicemen have been deployed in Sejnane, Tabarka, Ain Draham and Jendouba and that all means have been put in place to intervene as quickly as possible.

The ministry has planned the intervention of reserve forces if needed, he added.

Some 100 fires were recorded in several regions of the country destroying 2,000 hectares of forests, Secretary of State for Agricultural production Amor Behi said.

The damage recorded each year are generally set at 1,300 hectares, but global warming and the rise in temperatures made countries like Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Italy and southern France exposed to such risks.

As for Colonel-Major, Head of the Central Operation Room of the Civil Protection Salah Korbi, he affirmed that most of the fires that have erupted in eight different governorates have been brought under control but flames persist in several areas in Bizerte, Beja, Jendouba and Kasserine.

He further expressed concern for the flames to reach the neighbouring towns, noting that, as a preventive measure, several shelters have been set up and 12 families have been evacuated to the Sejnane high school and Ain Draham Cultural Centre where 23 houses have been damaged by fire.

The situation in the concerned governorates is now under control and reassuring notably in Beja and Jendouba, Korbi added, stressing that the level of vigilance is still high and that all measures have been taken to prevent the spread of the flames and to protect the residents.

Source: TAP News Agency

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