26 firefighters die battling China forest fire

Beijing: At least 26 firefighters have died while battling a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, authorities said on Monday.

Thirty people were reported missing on Sunday after being trapped by a sudden change in wind direction in Liangshan prefecture in Sichuan province, the South China Morning Post reported.

The Emergency Ministry said on its social media account that 26 people were found dead and rescuers continued to search for other missing people.

State news agency Xinhua reported that those confirmed dead were all members of the fire crews.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Western Theatre Command had earlier put the number of dead at 24.

Officials said that 689 firefighters were dispatched to put out the fire in Muli county, which started on Saturday, but contact was lost on Sunday with 30.

The blaze broke out at a remote spot in the rugged mountains at an altitude of about 3,800 metres, where transport and communication are difficult.

Two military helicopters carrying medical staff were sent to the area.