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Last Updated: Monday, 18 July 2005, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Spain blaze victims' bodies found
Fire victims
Some of the victims' bodies were found near their burned out trucks
Police have recovered the bodies of 11 volunteer firefighters who died as they tried to fight a forest fire in Spain's Guadalajara province.

Officials said they died after becoming encircled by the fire, following a sudden change in wind direction.

The blaze, which began in pine woodland at Cueva de los Casares on Saturday, has burned an estimated 8,000 hectares.

Police say the forest fire was started by a barbecue and fanned by blustery winds in very dry conditions.

Officials had suggested earlier that 14 had died in the blaze, but the figures were revised down after a visit to the scene by Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega.

French deaths

She is heading an emergency meeting with government colleagues on Monday, as the fires continue.

Firefighting helicopter flying, surrounded by flames

The BBC's Marian Hens in Madrid says the deputy prime minister was met by angry locals when she visited the region. She says they voiced complaints about the delay and lack of resources to fight this kind of disaster.

France, which is also suffering a serious drought, has sent two firefighting aircraft to assist with the Spanish efforts. Three French firefighters were killed while tackling a blaze in the eastern region of Burgundy on Sunday.

The fires in Spain's central Guadalajara province have forced hundreds of homes to be evacuated.

The two trucks and three four-wheel-drive vehicles belonging to the 11 victims were found completely charred.

They had gone out in two groups to battle the blaze, but their efforts were hampered by strong winds and summer temperatures of up to 40 Celsius.

Map

A crisis unit has been set up with civilian authorities and the military and police to combat the fire, which has still not been brought under control.

Water planes and helicopters have been drafted in to help the 150 firefighters on the ground.

Several other forest fires have been burning in other parts of Spain, which is suffering from one of its worst droughts in decades, leaving the countryside like a tinderbox.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See the devastation left by the forest fire




SEE ALSO
Iberian misery as drought bites
13 Jun 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Spain
03 Jul 05 |  Country profiles

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