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Dublin: 18 °C Thursday 22 August, 2019
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Fire rips through German forest littered with Nazi explosives

“I pray to God that he sends us rain, as quickly as possible,” environment minister Till Backhaus said.

Germany Forest Fire Smoke rises as a forest fire rages near Vielank, Germany. Source: Associated Press

GERMAN FIREFIGHTERS ARE battling a huge forest blaze ripping through a former military training area littered with unexploded munitions dating back to the Nazi era.

Hundreds of emergency personnel – backed by helicopters, army vehicles and police water canon – have been fighting the flames and evacuated four nearby villages with a total of over 1,000 residents in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state.

The smell from the blaze, the largest recorded in the ex-communist northeastern state, has drifted as far as Berlin, 200 kilometres (125 miles) away, as much of Europe swelters in blistering summer temperatures.

The German army today sent in armoured vehicles to clear pathways of dangerous unexploded ordnance (UXO) so that fire engines can enter the burning region that measures some 600 hectares (1,400 acres).

The former military training ground near the town of Luebtheen is littered with bombs, grenades and bullets from the Nazi era’s Wehrmacht, the former Soviet army, and from reunited Germany’s Bundeswehr.

Tests in the past had unearthed more than 45 tonnes of UXO per hectare, state environment minister Till Backhaus told local newspaper the Ostsee Zeitung, adding: “I pray to God that he sends us rain, as quickly as possible.”

© – AFP 2019

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