Astana, Jun 11 (EFE).- Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Sunday visited the area affected by the forest fire that broke out in a nature reserve in the region of Abai, in the east of the Central Asian country, in which at least 14 people have died and some 60,000 hectares destroyed, according to the Ministry of Emergencies Situations.
The president flew over the area by helicopter and was briefed by the deputy minister for emergency situations and the mayor of Abai on the progress in extinguishing the fire, which is “currently under control,” officials said Sunday.
Tokayev met in Abai with the families of the deceased, all of them forestry workers, according to preliminary reports, and expressed his condolences for this “great tragedy,” according to the presidency.
The head of state, who declared Monday a day of national mourning, promised “comprehensive assistance” to the victims’ families and assured that “all those responsible for this tragedy will be prosecuted in accordance with the law.”
The Ministry of Emergencies reported that 1,500 people and 300 units from the Ministry of Forestry, the Forestry Committee, the Ministry of Defense, and local executive bodies, as well as 11 helicopters, have been mobilized to extinguish the fire, which broke out on Thursday and initially affected an area of 2,000 hectares.
However, the fire quickly spread to some 60,000 hectares.
Tokayev suspended his visit to Vietnam and dismissed Emergency Situations Minister Yuri Ilin on Saturday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his condolences and support for Tokayev in a telegram. EFE