Israel's largest-ever bushfire raged uncontrollably Friday night,
taunting efforts by exhausted fire teams to battle the blaze as it
threatened areas previously untouched by the flames.
By late evening, around 36 hours after it began, the fire, which
broke out on the Carmel hill southeast of the northern city of
Haifa, had claimed 42 lives, destroyed more than 8,500 acres of
parched, drought-stricken land and devoured more than four million
trees, and forced 17,000 people from 14 locations to flee their
Aided by unseasonably warm weather and strong winds, which showed
no signs of abetting overnight, the flames were approaching Haifa
University, which sits atop the Carmel, on the southeastern
outskirts of the city.
The adjacent suburb of Daniya, some of whose residents had been
evacuated shortly after midnight Friday, was under renewed threat,
with the blaze only one kilometre away, though officials said
there was no immediate danger to homes there.
New, smaller fires broke out during the day, while the main blaze
was reigniting in some locations where it had been doused earlier,
but with the fall of darkness around 5 p.m. (1500 GMT),
firefighting aircraft, some of which had been dispatched from
European countries, were forced to halt operations.
The planes were set to resume flying at first light Saturday,
reinforced by aircraft capable of carrying larger loads of water,
which had arrived during the day in Israel. Hopes were especially
being pinned on a Russian airplane that landed late Friday in
Israel with a capacity of 42,000 litres.
Fire crews on the ground were expected to work throughout the
night but with little hope of being able to contain the fire, much
less extinguish it.
National Police Commissioner David Cohen told journalists Friday
evening that it was impossible to say the fire was under control,
but he hoped by Saturday this would change.
He said the fire had one ignition point, and it was possible that
by Saturday special investigators could determine whether it was
caused by deliberate arson or negligence.
Haifa Fire Service spokesman Chezi Levy told reporters that the
ignition point had been burning garbage in a yard of a house in
the village of Usafiyah.
Police Friday afternoon arrested two men who reportedly threw a
Molotov cocktail in the forest close to where the fire was raging.
Cohen told journalists later that the two were not linked to the
blaze, nor to the fires that had broken out north of Haifa during
the day and which were thought to have been the result of arson
"We are in the midst of a disaster of international proportions,"
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told an emergency cabinet
session Friday morning in Tel Aviv, before taking off to tour the
disaster area by helicopter.
The blaze broke out before noon Thursday. Huge flames sent sparks
into the sky, prompting one witness to remark that the Carmel hill
looked like "a volcano".
Thirty-six of the 42 fatalities were prison service cadets, sent
to help evacuate inmates from a prison in the path of the flames
Thursday. Their bus was engulfed by the fire, which left nothing
more than the charred frame of the vehicle.
A nature photographer, Roni Sofer, who headed the convoy in his
jeep, described to the daily Yediot Ahronot how "at one of the
bends in the road, there was again a wall of fire facing me, about
30 meters high, an unfathomable sight".
Survivors said most of the cadets managed to get off the bus but
did not stand a chance of outracing the fire by foot.
Some 900 inmates from two prisons in the area were safely
Four Greek planes and a Hercules cargo plane from Bulgaria with
some 150 firefighters on board joined the effort. Countries such
as Turkey and Cyprus sent around 20 planes and helicopters and
other equipment arrived Friday.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio that Israel
had turned to Germany for help, which in turn had asked Turkey for
assistance, prompting Ankara to send two planes - despite its
marred relations with Israel.
US President Barack Obama has offered condolences to the families
of the victims. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad called
Israeli President Shimon Peres to express condolences.
Ibn Sina (Avicenna)
- Doctor of doctors
Ibn Sina was born in 980 C.E. in the
village of Afshana near Bukhara which today is located in the far
south of Russia. His father, Abdullah, an adherent of the Ismaili
sect, was from Balkh and his mother from a
civil society members to break Kashmir ice
A 10-member delegation of
parliamentarians and civil society activists arrives here Friday to
interact with separatists, locals, victims of the recent unrest,
mainstream politicians and the youth to discuss
battle to check Israel's worst-ever bushfire
An estimated 13,000 people had been forced to flee their homes in
northern Israel Friday morning, as the worst bushfire in Israel's
history entered its second day, leaving 40 dead. The blaze had
University to host its pre-1970 alumni, including PM
institution that has had the likes of a president, prime
ministers, union cabinet ministers, Nobel laureates, governors,
chief ministers, actors and other distinguished people on its
As Panjab University in
Qataris flood the streets after winning World Cup bid
Thousands of fans took to the streets
of Doha Thursday, blaring horns and waving flags in celebration of
Qatar winning the bid to host the
team's humanitarian visit to Gaza delayed
A group of 60 people from across India were flagged off Thursday
on a humanitarian visit to Gaza as part of an Asian outreach
initiative, but the organisers said Pakistan is yet to issue
visas, jeopardising the entire trip