Friday, December 03, 2010

At least 40 dead on fire-engulfed bus in North Israel

From JPOST.COM, 12 December 2010, by YAAKOV LAPPIN:

Fire-fighting crews, planes attempt to control fire in brush-covered Carmel area amidst heavy winds; over 6,000 dunams burned; Damon Prison, University of Haifa evacuated.

The majority of the 40 people burned to death in a bus caught up in the Carmel forest fires were prison wardens en route to the Damon prison.

The wardens were meant to assist in the evacuation of some 500 prisoners from the facility, situated near Kibbutz Beit Oren, when their vehicle became engulfed in fast moving flames which had spread to the narrow mountain road linking Atlit to Kibbutz Bet Oren.

A firefighter spokesman said the fire had traveled 1500 meters in less than three minutes, adding, "the bus had no chance. They tried to escape but were burned alive. It was a horrific scene."

The spokesman added at the fire was very far from the road on which the bus was travelling when it first set off towards the prison, but had spread far faster than expected.

Shimon Romach. Fire and Rescue Commissioner, added that the firefighting operation would be limited to ground forces after sunset, since fire planes cannot be used at night. "I don't think we will get control of this tonight," he added.

Thousands of dunam have gone up in flames in the Carmel forest between Haifa University and Ussafiya, and it remains unclear how the incident will end at this stage

Police described the incident as a "major disaster. Many of the dead are from the security forces, and include civilians. The fire is continuing to spread and is endangering many areas....
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