22 killed in China wildfire (Lead)

December 6th, 2010 - 12:05 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Dec 5 (IANS) A grassland fire in a mountainous Tibetan region in southwest China proved deadly Sunday when it trapped soldiers and local residents trying to douse the blaze, killing at least 22 people, officials said.

The wildfire was raging through a grassland atop a plateau some six km from the county government seat in Daofu County in Sichuan province, Xinhua reported.

Officials said the blaze broke out at noon Sunday and was brought under control at about 3 p.m. However, gusting winds boosted the flames and trapped people fighting the fire.

About 2,000 people have joined the fire-fighting efforts. An emergency medical team has been sent to the scene.

Of the 22 victims, 15 were soldiers, two were workers with the grassland administration while five others were local civilians, officials said.

Daofu sits in a forest-covered area at the eastern edge of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. It has a population of 45,000, about 89 percent of whom are ethnic Tibetans.

A string of deadly fires hit China in recent weeks as most parts of the country brace for an especially dry winter.

In the latest tragedy, 58 people were killed in a Shanghai high-rise fire Nov 15.

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