Morocco firefighters battle blazes as villagers flee

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Hundreds of Moroccan firefighters and soldiers battled late Thursday to put out at least four infernos ripping through forests in the north of the kingdom.

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This was according to officials, noting that the fires, fanned by strong winds in the four areas, have not resulted in any casualties so far, but nearly 500 families were evacuated “as a precaution” in the provinces of Larache and Taza.

Several villages that were evacuated also saw military planes dropping loads of water to extinguish fires tearing across the dry terrain.

Shocked by how fast the flames were spreading, residents fled their homes.

At least 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of forest have been burned since Wednesday night in Larache and Ouezzane, according to initial reports.

Hundreds of civil defence workers as well as soldiers and police officers are taking part in trying to stop the fires from causing more destruction.

Morocco, which is struggling under intense droughts has in recent days been hit by soaring temperatures approaching 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit).

Across the Strait of Gibraltar, wild fires are also raging in southern Europe, from Portugal and Spain through to France and Greece.

Scientists say extreme weather events such as heatwaves and droughts, which make wildfires more likely, are linked to climate change.

They are expected to become even more frequent, more prolonged and more intense in the future.

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