An Ilyushin-76 aircraft, lent by Iran, takes off from the PAF’s Nur Khan base, in Rawalpindi, on Tuesday to take part in the firefighting operation in Balochistan’s Shirani district. The Ilyushin-76 is one of the biggest firefighting aircraft in the world. The forest fire in Shirani started a week ago after lightning struck the area. It has destroyed hundreds of trees in the Koh-i-Suleman mountain range, home to the world’s largest pine nut forest.—Courtesy PAF
An Ilyushin-76 aircraft, lent by Iran, takes off from the PAF’s Nur Khan base, in Rawalpindi, on Tuesday to take part in the firefighting operation in Balochistan’s Shirani district. The Ilyushin-76 is one of the biggest firefighting aircraft in the world. The forest fire in Shirani started a week ago after lightning struck the area. It has destroyed hundreds of trees in the Koh-i-Suleman mountain range, home to the world’s largest pine nut forest.—Courtesy PAF

QUETTA: Federal Minister for Housing Maulana Abdul Wasey said on Tuesday that hectic efforts by government agencies and the help of an Iranian firefighting aircraft have resulted in controlling wildfire that broke out in the forests of Shirani district of Balochistan.

Speaking at a press conference here, he said that fire in 95 per cent area of the forests has been brought under control.

The federal minister was accompanied by provincial Minister for Planning and Development Noor Mohammad Dummar, Chief Secretary Abdul Aziz Aquili, Director General of Provincial Disaster Management Authority Naseer Ahmed Nasar and Balochistan government’s spokesperson Farah Azeem Shah at the press conference.

Maulana Wasey said that the fire has affected centuries-old forests in a 15-kilometre area and that the people of the region have suffered losses running into billions of rupees.

PM gets report on firefighting operation

He announced that after completing the operation for dousing the fire in pine nuts and olive forests, an investigation would be conducted to ascertain the cause of fire at Suleman mountains. Those found involved in the incident would be brought to justice, he said.

The federal minister said the Iranian firefighting aircraft played an important role in controlling the fire. The aircraft, which can carry 40 tons of water in one go, started its operation on Tuesday.

He said the firefighting operation would continue till the fire in the forests of Shirani district is completely extinguished. The Iranian firefighting aircraft would stay in Pakistan till the operation is completed, he added.

Maulana Wasey said soon after receiving reports about the fire he was given the responsibility to supervise the firefighting operation in the area.

He said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered utilisation of all resources to provide compensation and relief to the affected people.

Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo, Corps Commander Lt-Gen Sarfraz Ali and the chief secretary visited the affected area.

In Islamabad, PM Sharif received a report on the ongoing firefighting operation in Balochistan, APP adds. According to the report presented by the provincial government, rescue measures to check the wildfire in Shirani and Musakhel districts have been speeded up.

Special teams have been constituted by the provincial forest department and civil administration for rescue and relief operations, it said.

The forest department staff has been directed to spend 75 per cent of their duty hours in the area.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2022

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