Morocco arrests 4 for suspected arson in forest

RABAT, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- The Morocco police have arrested four suspects, aged between 20 and 30, for deliberately starting a huge forest fire in the north of the country on Monday, the police said in a statement on Tuesday.

The fire has burned more than 90 hectares of the Kodiat Tifour forest in the province of M'diq-Fnideq, as firefighters are working to prevent the flames from spreading to populated areas with the help of specialized Canadair aircraft, official news agency MAP reported Tuesday.

During the rescue attempt on Monday, three firefighters were killed and two others seriously injured when their vehicle plunged into a ravine, according to MAP.

In July, firefighters struggled for days before containing fires in the forests of Larache, Ouezzane, Tetouan and Taza in northern Morocco, as temperatures soared to 45 degrees Celsius in many parts of the North African country.

According to the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture, fires in July destroyed more than 10,500 hectares of forest.

Since July, the Moroccan government has released a total of 350 million dirhams (33.6 million U.S. dollars) in emergency aid to help victims of forest fires and reduce their impact on agriculture.

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