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Army, FC continue relief efforts to control Balochistan fire

PM Shehbaz calls for monitoring teams to be deployed in the affected Sherani area

Relief efforts led by Pakistan Army and Balochistan FC are ongoing to control the fire in a pine forest in Balochistan’s Sherani district, the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement.

According to ISPR, the fire began on May 18 and is yet to be brought under control.

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“Balochistan Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) in coordination with National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is steering relief effort,” it added.

The military’s media wing said that the army and Balochistan FC are providing maximum assistance, adding that Quetta Corps is also coordinating closely with the PDMA.

“Fire is mostly on mountain tops (10,000 feet high) away from population centres but continues to spread due to hot weather, inaccessible nature of the terrain and dry winds,” the statement added.

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The ISPR said that the nearest village is approximately eight to ten kilometres away from the location of the fire, adding that about 10 families residing in isolated houses have been shifted to the medical relief camp established in Manikhawa by Balochistan FC.

Giving away the details of the rescue operation, it said that FC wing, two army helicopters, local administration and levies have been employed for firefighting and relief efforts. “One helicopter is being used to drop water, and the other is being used to drop fireball and fire extinguishing chemicals on the fire,” it added.

The ISPR further said that 400 fireballs, 200 fire suits, blankets, tents, mats and fire extinguishing equipment have been provided by NDMA through Balochistan FC.

It added that the army has also transported relief equipment from Lahore to Zhob.

At least three people were killed when a burning log fell on them in Sherani. They were trying to extinguish the fire. Four people sustained serious burn injuries in the incident.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Saturday suggested the authorities concerned utilize the latest firefighting techniques and arrangements to overcome fire eruption incidents like the one that took place in Shirani area of Balochistan.

Chairing a meeting over the recent incident of forest fire that burnt precious pine trees in Balochistan, the prime minister stressed that all latest tools and techniques should be employed to handle such situations in future.

He referred to the use of the latest fire suppression tactics in the US and Australia, including spraying wildfire retardants through helicopters.

The NDMA was in contact with different federal departments — including forest and local departments — and had set up relief camps and offices to speed up assistance activities.

Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo informed the meeting that further steps were taken to bring fire under control. He also told about the assistance given to the heirs of the dead and the injured.

The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to take immediate steps for compensation to those families who had lost their loved ones in the incident.

He assured the provincial government of the federal government’s full support to share the grief of the bereaved families and assist them financially, including bearing educational and medical expenditures of their siblings.

The prime minister said three precious lives were lost in the unfortunate incident and observed that immediate and emergency steps were required to cope with the catastrophe.

He said precautionary steps must be taken to protect forests in Gilgit-Baltistan, and the federal government should ensure coordination between the departments.

He, however, expressed satisfaction that all the stakeholders, including the army, were making commendable efforts.

The prime minister also directed that monitoring teams should be deployed in the affected area, and they keep close coordination with other related authorities till the issue was resolved.

He also sought a future mechanism to overcome such incidents and tasked the NDMA chairman to submit a plan within next two weeks after consultation with other relevant authorities.



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