Toxic smoke and raging blazes rip through Morocco

time:2023-06-01 11:06:52 source:CBS News

Wildfires have swept across parts of northern Morocco in the last few days, in the forests of Taza, Tetouan and Larache, leading to scenes of raging infernos and plumes of thick smoke.

The ferocious blazes have been blamed on soaring temperatures reaching around 45C and droughts.

At least one person died and more than 1,000 families in affected areas were evacuated, according to AFP news agency.

The person suffered "multiple burns" in Larache, AFP quotes authorities as saying.

Photos from the town of Ksar Sghir in Tetouan show inferno-like scenes.

Firefighters have been battling to put out the flames using aircraft. The fires have been exacerbated by forceful winds.

Rescue workers have been dropping large amounts of water over the areas aflame.

The forest areas which were hit were in parts of the country that are hard to reach, said Fouad Assali, head of the National Centre for Forest Climate Risk Management.

Fire rescue services are still working hard to put out the blazes.

"Efforts are continuing in the hope of bringing these fires under control," Mr Assali was quoted as saying.

Locals in the city of Ksar el-Kebir were pictured seeking shelter from the smoke and blaze in cars, as well as driving on nearby roads.

One resident of Larache said the hot weather is to blame.

"It is the heat that causes this kind of fire. It was yesterday at dawn that the fire reached our village," Ahmed Mezouar, 58, said.

"We are afraid for our houses," he continued, but said he was safe for now.

Another man told how he had reached safety.

"I was with my family, and at one point, we heard people shouting, 'Fire! Fire!'" Samir Boundad, who is from Larache, said.

"We ran out to flee and fortunately, thanks to God, the fire moved up the mountain."

Climate change increases the risk of the hot, dry weather that is likely to fuel wildfires.

This summer wildfires have also been raging in Portugal, Spain, France, Turkey and the UK.

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