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ARGENTINA | 25-08-2020 15:20

Raging wildfires burn out of control in central and northern Argentina

Raging wildfires in forests and grasslands are spreading in northern and central Argentina, with outbreaks in at least a dozen provinces.

Raging wildfires in forests and grasslands are spreading in northern and central Argentina, with outbreaks in at least a dozen provinces.

The Paraná Delta is experiencing its worst week since the beginning of the year, with fires stretching over hundreds of kilometres of grassland and wetland.

Fires have also been seen in the north and centre of the country, with officials in Córdoba Province on Monday reporting evacuations and an "extreme risk" of further outbreaks in the coming days thanks to dry and windy weather.

According to Reuters, at least 14,321 hectares (55 square miles) of grasslands and mountainous territory have so far been burned, mainly in the northern areas of Punilla and Ischilín.

Meanwhile, in the province of Santa Fe, 6,235 separate outbreaks have been registered over the last week, officials said

The fires in the Paraná fires are the worst in about a decade and have sparked concern among experts about the environmental impact of the disaster.

Since January there have been more than 25,000 outbreaks in the system of islands and streams that make up the rich region of biodiversity, according to reports, with the Paraná River at its lowest level in more than 60 years, enabling wildifires to rage quicker than ever.

The emergency has prompted dozens of volunteers to cross the river from Rosario to help put out the fires. On Sunday, workers at toll booths on the national route that connects Rosario and Victoria were forced to evacuate, with dense smoke prompting the shutdown of the motorway.

Many locals say air in the region has become practically unbreathable, with Rosario among the most affected cities. The National University of Rosario said last week that the atmosphere was up to six times more polluted than normal. 

Fires have spread across at least a dozen provinces in Argentina.

According to the most recent update from the Environment and Sustainable Development Ministry, Córdoba Province is registering the highest number of active outbreaks at present. Power lines have ben affected, while some major roads and motorways are likely to be cut off soon.

Provincial judicial officials are investigating the cause of the fires, which some have alleged were illegal set by ranchers in order to clear territory for agricultural development.

The provincial government has urged citizens to report outbreaks as soon as possible.

Vast tracts in the north of the Entre Ríos Province have also experienced incendiary outbreaks, while in Corrientes a large part of the ecological reserve in the San Cayetano provincial park has also been burning.

According to the government's latest report on the risk of fires, the danger of new outbreaks "will remain high during the third quarter" of the year.

-TIMES/AFP

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