Firefighters in costly win

China | ASSOCIATED PRESS 3 Apr 2019

Firefighters had by yesterday contained a blaze high in the rugged forested mountains of western China that claimed the lives of 30 of their colleagues - one of the worst disasters for the emergency services in recent years.

Flames appeared to have been snuffed out, and while a few areas continued to emit smoke there was no threat of the fire spreading again.

The bodies of the dead firefighters were taken to the town of Xichang in Sichuan province, while three helicopters brought in more reinforcements to handle the threat.

Changing winds on Sunday trapped 27 firefighters and three volunteer helpers challenging the blaze in a remote area at an altitude of 3,800 meters, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management. Despite attempts at a rescue all 30 were confirmed dead on Monday afternoon.

Most of the dead were in their 20s, though at least two were teenagers.

China has been battling forest fires in recent weeks in various parts of the country, including on the outskirts of Beijing. The blazes have been fed by dry weather and high winds across many areas.

The death toll was being counted as the worst for Chinese firefighters since 2015. That was when an explosion at a chemical facility in Tianjin port killed 173 people -- most of them firefighters and other first responders.

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