Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fire raging in eastern Tibet

 detailed news release on forest fire in eastern Tibet.

A forest fire is raging in eastern Tibet with no sign of abating after almost a month.
Some Chinese illegal hunters were held responsible for igniting the forest fire in Markham in eastern Tibet. The wild fire has caused irreparable environmental damage, and has now spread to neighboring counties, Gonjon, Dragyab, and Chamdo County. 

The forest fire started on March 10, 2012 at a place called  Lhora Choe Chasoརླུང་ར་ཆུས་ལྕགས་་སོ་སྟེང་ in Markham county, Chamdo prefecture, Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Even after 20 days of raging forest fire, it could not be put out, and spread to other natural forests in Markham. Most of the forests in Markham were now completely burned by the fire.  The fire has began from Nornag, and Dorlhai and spread to རྒྱ་ཀར་དང་རྗེས་མཛོ་དང་དོམ་ཚང་ལོ་། ཤ་རྒྱུ་་ཆེ་ཆུང་། ལྷོ་རྡོ་རུང་། རྟག་ལ་རྒྱབ་སོགས་ཀྱི་སྨར་ཁམས་ཁུལ་གྱི་ནགས་ཚལ་ཆེ་ཤོས་མང་པོ་ཞིག་ལ་མེ་ཤུགས་ ཆེ་འབར་ཏེ་ནགས་ཚལ་་མང་ཆེ་བ་ཞིག་ཚིག་ཚར་ཡོད་པ་རེད་འདུག།
A Tibetan from Tibet, who is familiar with the fire incident said
“The forest at Dontsang Lo, Shagyul Chechug, Lhodo Ro, Thaklagyal, were completely burned, they are gone. Local authorities have ordered all local people to assist extinguishing the fire, warning those who doesn’t comply the order will be fined. So I on behave of my family went to extinguish the fire. But the fire is so intense, it is humanly not possible to approach the site where the fire is raging on and the entire area /valley is engulfed in fire. The local people are unable to approach the site of the fire, leaving alone to put it out”.
“The Chinese governments have dispatched four fire trucks from Chamdo, but it is the forest on the mountain that is caught fire, so there is accessibility issue and the trucks could not reach the fire, they are helpless” 
Another Tibetan from the area that is affected by the fire said
“We nomads have moved to other places, when the fire initially started, we brought it to the attention of the local Chinese authorities. We categorically stated the dire consequence of the fire, and the venerability of its possible spread to other areas owing to dry land if the fire remains unchecked. For the winter, we didn’t get enough rainfall”. 
“The Chinese local officials didn’t pay heed to our initial alert of the fire.  Now the entire areas is burned down, and the Chinese are waking up too late to send in more troop and police forces. What good it will do now. Look the entire valleys and mountains are gutted by the fire”, Said the Tibetan informant with great disappointment.
RFA reporter, Lobsang Choephel contacted the forestry department of Markham County to inquire about the fire.
 The Chinese officials admitted that a big wild fire has caught up the forest and is still burning, they said the local government has left no stone unturned in effort to extinguish the fire. An unnamed official said “We are providing all the necessary equipment to people who are extinguishing the fire.  But the fire is too big and so intense, nothing could be done. Concerned officials from TAR,Tibetan Autonomous Regions and Chamdo prefecture have arrived at the scene and guiding the fire extinguishing operation in full swing. The people’s liberation army, the people’s armed police, local cadets and civilians are all involved in the effort to extinguish the fire. But the fire was so intense, and it is not proving to be an easy task”.

When our reporter inquired about the cause of the forest fire, deputy director of  Markham county police, Mr. Wang said “The forest fire was initially ignited by a group of illegal hunters. Four of those responsible are now held in detention. Two of them are Chinese nationals from Sichuan, one is a Tibetan from Gandze, and another Chinese national from Yunan, we are looking if any others are involved in this”.

The party Chief of Tibetan Autonomous Region, Mr. Cheng quangGuo issued a seven points decree on April 1.2012 calling for an emergency fire rescue operation.
It stated “The [aforementioned] fires have done irreparable damage to the natural forest of the nation. An emergency fire rescue operation should be carried out in full force with the concerted effort /collaboration of the Chinese military, People’s armed police, police, local cadets and civilians to bring an end to the fire. At the same time, no effort should be lost in maintaining, the social order, and stability. Like the saying goes “letting loose the tigress out of the forest”, the separatists force might likely use this incident to carry out separatists’ activities by spreading rumor and an exaggeration. The concerned authorities must be cautious and stay alert”.
The forest fire that started in Markham  County, has now spread to four other counties under Chamdo prefecture, such as Gonjo, Drayab, and Chamdo with sign of abating.

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