Forest fire kills 40 in Israel

At least 40 people were killed in Israel as fire raged through a forest in its northern city of Haifa.

Last Updated: Dec 02, 2010, 21:29 PM IST

Jerusalem: At least 40 people, including
prison guards and firemen were killed today in Israel as fire
raged through a forest in its northern city of Haifa where a
bus with 50 prisoners was trapped in the inferno after
overturning.

"Huge brushfire was raging across the Carmel Mountains
near Haifa on Thursday afternoon, causing dozens of
casualties, among them prison guards and firemen," the Haaretz
newspaper said in its report.

Police are evacuating thousands of people, including
hundreds of prison inmates.

There were reports that a bus carrying 50 prisoners
was trapped in the inferno after overturning. Scores of people
have been injured, the ambulance service said.

"Large numbers of paramedics are dealing with injured
in different locations," a spokesman for the ambulance service
said. Dozens of fire crews are battling the fire amid heavy
winds with the help of water dropped from planes, the
Jerusalem Post reported.

Officials have told the newspaper that firefighters
have been unable to control the flames. The cause of the blaze
is unknown.

Israel is currently suffering a period of drought with
no significant rain since the spring.

PTI