Nu­clear free penin­sula is on the agenda

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

Mas­sive wild­fires that have killed at least seven peo­ple in re­cent weeks were burn­ing through pine forests in the moun­tains of north­ern In­dia yes­ter­day, in­clud­ing parts of two tiger re­serves.

With dense black smoke bil­low­ing in the skies for kilo­me­tres, au­thor­i­ties were urg­ing vil­lagers to be on alert and tourists to avoid trav­el­ling to the Hi­malayan foothills, pop­u­lar dur­ing the sum­mer for their cooler tem­per­a­tures.

Dozens of fires were spread­ing un­pre­dictably in the states of Ut­tarak­hand and neigh­bour­ing Hi­machal Pradesh, of­fi­cials said.

“We are strug­gling to bring the sit­u­a­tion un­der con­trol,” for­est of­fi­cer Bhanu Prasad Gupta said in the state of Ut­tarak­hand, ac­cord­ing to As­so­ci­ated Press.

Af­ter state fire­fight­ers were un­able for months to put out the fires, the In­dian gov­ern­ment sent air force he­li­copters over the week­end to drop wa­ter on blazes cov­er­ing nearly 23 square kilo­me­ters of pine forests.

Af­ter ar­eas were soaked from above, groups of vil­lagers fanned out into the steam­ing jungle forests and used green-leafed branches to beat out the em­bers still glow­ing on the ground.

But the thick smoke and re­mote, moun­tain­ous ter­rain were mak­ing the job difficult for some 9,000 fire­fight­ers, army sol­diers and for­est guards de­ployed to bat­tle the flames, Gupta said.

Nearby vil­lages were asked to stay alert, but none has yet been asked to evac­u­ate. Au­thor­i­ties set up 84 cen­tres to re­ceive news of new out­breaks.

Hun­dreds of tourists have aban­doned plans to visit the pop­u­lar hill towns of Ranikhet, Almora and Pauri af­ter smoke re­duced vis­i­bil­ity on steep moun­tain­ous roads. Dur­ing the scorch­ing sum­mer, hill re­sorts in Ut­tarak­hand are a favourite week­end get­away for peo­ple in New Delhi, 400 kilo­me­ters to the south. Iran’s Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani has pushed for a Korean penin­sula free of nu­clear weapons, the of­fi­cial IRNA news agency re­ported. Rouhani met with vis­it­ing South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye and said Iran seeks a world free of weapons of mass de­struc­tion, “es­pe­cially nu­clear” weapons. “Our de­mand is a world free of weapons of mass de­struc­tion, es­pe­cially free­ing the Korean penin­sula and the Mid­dle East from de­struc­tive weapons,” he said yes­ter­day. Park said she has asked for Iran’s help in im­ple­ment­ing U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions calling for the nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment of the Korean penin­sula. The re­marks were aimed at North Korea, which has been hit with tough UN sanc­tions over its nu­clear weapons pro­gramme. Park ar­rived in Tehran on Sun­day for the first visit by a South Korean pres­i­dent to Iran since 1962. Rouhani said both sides agreed to in­crease their bi­lat­eral trade from the cur­rent $6 bil­lion per year to $18 bil­lion in the com­ing years. South Korea and Iran es­tab­lished diplo­matic ties in 1962 but their heads of states have never held bi-lat­eral talks.

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