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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 seven injured when they were trapped battling a fierce forest blaze.
The group, reportedly all volunteers in their 20s, was encircled by flames when the wind suddenly changed course on the island of Kornat, the national firefighting chief, Mladen Jurin, said.
Police said in a statement that eight men had been detained on suspicious of arson. The state-run news agency HINA said the eight were seasonal construction and tourist workers, who had been reportedly filmed by a German tourist.
Five of the seven wounded firefighters had life-threatening injuries and were transferred overnight to two clinics in Zagreb, doctors said. Burns covered 85-90 percent of their bodies.
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. If it was arson, the government wanted the "perpetrators to be identified and harshly punished," he said.
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 brigade and were in their 20s.
The fire was brought under control in the early hours.
Kornat is the biggest island in the archipelago of Kornati off central Croatia in the Adriatic Sea. Dozens of small islands, mostly uninhabited and surrounded by clear blue water, are popular with tourists.
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 : 2021-06-17 18:02 GMT+08:00