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Lebanese government under fire over uncontrollable forest blaze

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Lebanon has called for international help as it struggles to contain forest fires that have spread across the country since Monday.

The death of a volunteer who was assisting firefighters has raised questions about the state’s lack of preparedness despite annual fires at this time of year.
High winds and a spike in temperatures have exacerbated forest fires that were particularly devastating in the Chouf region, a mountains area south-east of Beirut famous for its cedars and forest reserves.

Dramatic videos shared on Tuesday on social media under the hashtag #Lebanonisburning in Arabic showed high flames threatening villages under an orange sky and the charred remains of pine forests.

Lebanese media reported that a young man, Salim Abou Mujahed, died of a heart attack while trying to assist civil defence units in extinguishing the fires.

Four houses were burnt to the ground in the Chouf’s Meshref area while flames reached the balconies of surrounding houses after locals fled, the state-run National News Agency reported. Several shops along a highway outside Beirut were destroyed.

A garage owner reportedly lost 11 cars in the blaze and images shared online showed police bringing in water cannons used for crowd control to assist.

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