Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Africa
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-----------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-----------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Friday, 10 March, 2000, 08:41 GMT
SA to fight Ethiopian fires

South Africa has agreed to send more firefighters to Ethiopia to assist in an air operation to put out raging forest fires.

"South Africa is honoured to be part of an international team providing assistance to the Ethiopian authorities in extinguishing these fires," said South Africa's deputy minister for foreign affairs, Aziz Pahad.


Bale National Park has something like 52% of the indigenous mammal species in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian official
Mr Pahad is in the Ethiopian capital for a meeting of the Organisation of African Unity.

About 70,000 hectares of forest and coffee plantations have been destroyed by the fires, which have been raging in southern Ethiopia for the past four weeks.

The fires now threaten some of Africa's rarest wildlife, as they approach the Bale Mountains National Park, which is home to species such as the Ethiopian wolf.

Commenting on the need for urgent international assistance, an official of the World Wildlife Fund in Addis Ababa said: "It is critically important because Bale National Park has something like 52% of the indigenous mammal species in Ethiopia."

Thousands mobilised

South Africa has already sent eight firefighters, but an additional 22 are now expected to join in the air operation which gets underway on Saturday.

fires
Some of Africa's rarest wildlife is threatened
An Ethiopian government official said the firefighters would attack the flames from the air with water and chemicals, using Ethiopian helicopters.

South Africa is also expected to provide a spotter plane for the first phase of the operation.

The fires are believed to have been started by farmers clearing forest for cultivation, or by honey collectors using fire to smoke out bees.

German and South African fire fighting assessors, who visited the areas affected, said that Ethiopia could not tackle the blazes alone.

Around 70,000 soldiers, farmers and university students have already been mobilised to fight the fires.

According to the authorities, two separate fires in Bale and Borena zones, 300 km south of the capital, Addis Ababa, have reached "unbearable proportions" and are now "completely uncontrollable".

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Africa Contents

Country profiles
See also:

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Africa stories