Firefighters in race against time to extinguish fires in Bolivia

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2019   •   374

Firefighters battled wildfires raging through Bolivia’s Robore region and the town of San Lorenzo on Sunday (August 25) that have engulfed rural villages and doubled in size since Thursday (August 22).

Bolivian President Evo Morales on Sunday said he was now open to international aid to fight the blazes that have burned unabated across vast swaths of hilly tropical forest and savannah near Bolivia’s border with Paraguay and Brazil. At least 1 million hectares, or approximately 3,800 square miles, have been impacted by the fires, officials said.

Video filmed by firefighter David Nina showed crews extinguishing fire in bushland, and walking through burnt out forest areas. In another video filmed by evangelical church volunteer David Ortiz, volunteers are seen helping people in a town and residents fleeing from impending danger.

Bolivia late last week contracted a Boeing 747 “Supertanker” from the United States to help with the fire-fighting, and has mobilised more than 2,000 firefighters, as well as small aircraft and helicopters. But the area affected by wildfire has nonetheless nearly doubled since Thursday.

Thousands of wildfires are also decimating the neighbouring Brazilian Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest.

The blazes have nearly doubled this year compared with the same period in 2018, prompting global outrage. (Reuters)

(Production: Monica Machicao)

Firefighters collapse from exhaustion, animals saved as wildfires rage on in Bolivia

UNTV News   •   September 20, 2019

 Firefighters battling raging wildfires in Bolivia were evacuated to hospitals in Santa Cruz on Thursday (September 19) after they collapsed from exhaustion.

Blazes have burned unabated across vast swaths of hilly forest and savannah near Bolivia’s border with Paraguay and Brazil. More than a million hectares, or approximately 3,800 square miles, have been impacted by the fires, officials have said.

The fires have left behind an uncountable death toll of flora and fauna. These animals in this refuge are the lucky ones.

This anteater has its paws bandaged after they were burnt by hot earth.

Bolivia is one of the poorest nations in the western hemisphere, but one of the richest in biodiversity. Swathes of the country has been left charred, barren from the fires and will be unable to sustain animal life for a while to come.

(Production: Monica Machicao)

Fire in Liberia school kills at least 27 children

Robie de Guzman   •   September 19, 2019

A fire at an Islamic school in Liberia has killed at least 27 children, police said on Wednesday (September 18).

The police spokesman Moses Carter said the blaze was caused by an electrical issue and the kids were learning the Koran when the fire broke out. He added that further investigations were ongoing.

Carter had originally said 30 children were killed before revising the death toll down to 27. Two survivors were taken to the hospital, he said.

The fire started late on Tuesday (September 17) in the suburbs of the capital Monrovia, President George Weah said in a tweet.

“My prayers go out to the families of the children that died last night in Paynesville City,” Weah said. “This is a tough time for the families of the victims and all of Liberia.”

It is common for buildings to collapse in blazes linked to faulty electrics in Liberia’s big cities, however, these are rarely deadly. (Reuters)

(Production: Soraya Ali)

India becomes latest country to ban sale of e-cigarettes

Robie de Guzman   •   September 19, 2019

India became the latest country after Brazil and Thailand to ban the sale of e-cigarettes in what could potentially be the biggest move against vaping globally over growing health concerns.

The ban, which also covers the production, import and advertising of e-cigarettes, cuts off a huge future market from e-cigarette makers at a time when the number of people smoking worldwide is declining.

“There has been a 77 percent increase in addiction of e-cigarettes among school-going or college-going young adults, teenagers, and children because nicotine addiction is quick and it is harmful as well,” Indian Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Preeti Sudan said.

India has 106 million smokers, second only to China.

The ban could also dash the expansion plans of companies such as Altria, backed Juul Labs, and Philip Morris International into the country.

“$150 billion opportunity, now that’s what is estimated, the nicotine market is going to be, why are we denying our farmers that, why are we denying our citizens a right to a less harmful product, these are questions that I would really like to ask the government,” Praveen Rikhy, Trade Representatives of endsin India said. (Reuters)

(Production: Soraya Ali)

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