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Six firefighters die battling fierce forest fire on Croatian island

Six firefighters die battling fierce forest fire on Croatian island

Croatia's Prime Minister Friday promised a thorough investigation into the country's worst firefighting tragedy that left six men dead and 14 injured when they were encircled by a forest blaze on the island of Kornati.
Five firefighters died on the island when the wind suddenly changed course and trapped the group inside a circle of flames, the national firefighting chief, Mladen Jurin, said Friday.
The body of the sixth firefighter, who went missing in the fire Thursday, was found on Friday morning at the spot, the state rescue service said.
Eight people, seasonal construction and tourist workers, were detained on suspicion they started the fire, the state-run news agency HINA reported. The eight were reportedly filmed by a German tourist who spotted them.
During a visit to see the injured in a clinic in the coastal city of Zadar early Friday, Premier Ivo Sanader said it was the "biggest tragedy in Croatian firefighting."
"The government insists on a thorough investigation," he said.
He confirmed there was a group of suspects. If it was arson, the government wanted the "perpetrators to be identified and harshly punished," he said.
Four of the 14 wounded firefighters had life-threatening injuries and were transferred overnight to a clinic in Zagreb, said Toni Kolak, the chief surgeon of Zagrebs's Dubrava clinic.
Local television stations showed footage of the injured, their bodies covered by burns. Private television station RTL said all firefighters were members of a local volunteer firefighting brigade and were all in their 20s.
The fire was brought under control in the early hours.
Croatia has battled a record number of 1,500 fires this summer, but mostly only in forests. The only previously recorded casualty this year was a firefighter who died Wednesday after falling ill while putting out fires on another island.


Updated : 2021-05-16 18:18 GMT+08:00