National Post (Latest Edition)

Nine dead as wind fans raging fires

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KYIV Forest fires swept through part of the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, killing nine people and hospitaliz­ing 14, the emergency service said on Thursday.

The fires, assisted by strong wind, threatened 31 settlement­s and engulfed an area of about 11,000 hectares, the service said, adding that 120 people had been evacuated.

Authoritie­s said there were a total of 146 fires and most of them had been extinguish­ed. Local agencies reported that at least 250 houses were damaged.

Ukrainian officials have said the fires may have been caused by shelling from a nearby area that is controlled by pro- Russian separatist­s, a crossing point to which was closed due to the fire.

This spring, forest fires around the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant in the north of the country and elsewhere pushed pollution levels in Kyiv to the worst in the world.

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