Wildfires raged through areas of Lebanon on October 16 and have forced some residents to leave their homes in the middle of the night while others stuck inside as flames ravaged through southern Beirut's villages, authorities said. Lebanese Government has been widely criticised by people as Lebanon had earlier bought three aircrafts several years ago which were to be used in extinguishing fires but they have been parked at Beirut's airport with no maintenance.
Reports say that a heatwave in the region accompanied by strong winds aggravated the fires which started a day earlier in pin forests around the Arab nation and three provinces in Syria. No fatalities from fires have been reported, which are being described as among the worst to hit Lebanon in many years. Fire crews were overpowered by the flames in Mount Lebanon region early October 15 which prompted Interior Ministry to send riot police with engines equipped with water cannons to help. Two small aircrafts were sent from the Mediterranean island of Cyrpus to subdue the flames.
Raya Haffar El Hassan, Minister Of Interior and Municipalities, said in a tweet below which in English reads as Cypriot helicopters are extinguishing the flames.
الطوافات القبرصية تعمل في هذه الأثناء على اخماد الحريق في المشرف pic.twitter.com/ZdXkqdLRl8— Raya Haffar El Hassan (@rayaelhassan) October 15, 2019
During the visit to Cyprus, Lebanese Defence Minister Elias Bou Saab said that Cypriot planes are fighting in Lebanon. Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said that if the fires turn out to be intentional those behind it “will pay a price.” Hariri added that an investigation will be opened to know what caused the fires.
In Damour, which is a coastal village in southern Beirut, there are reports that more than a dozen cars were charred on side of the road with many homes escaping damage. Lebanese Government has been widely criticised by people as Lebanon had earlier bought three aircrafts several years ago which were to be used in extinguishing fires but they have been parked at Beirut's airport with no maintenance. Interior Minister Raya El Hassan said that Greece will send 2 aircraft in response to a request from Lebanon adding that Jordan has proposed to send assistance to Beirut. In Syria fires spread through coastal provinces of Latakia, Tartus, Homs but were quickly bought under control.
(With inputs from AP)