(NAN)A forest fire in southwest China killed at least 30 people who became trapped after a gust of wind changed the direction of the blaze, authorities said.
The fire began around 6 p.m. Saturday at an altitude of about 3,800 meters in the mountainous area of Liangshan prefecture and 689 firefighters were dispatched to fight the blaze, the state-run China Xinhua News reported.
But on Sunday, 27 firefighters and three civilians, two of whom were officials in the forestry bureau, were reported missing after they lost contact with other rescuers when the wind changed, trapping them from rescue.
Hundreds of residents of Xichang City gathered Monday night to pay their respects to those who died as the bodies of those killed were transported down the mountain and through the town, CGTN reported.
“Local governments have exerted all-out efforts to put out the fire,” said Zhou Tong, an official with local emergency management department, adding that around 15 hectares of forest have so far been destroyed.
The forest fire in Liangshan prefecture is only one of several China has been fighting to control over the past few days.
On Friday, 1,500 firefighters have dispatched to Shanxi to battle a blaze that destroyed almost 3,000 hectares of forest, South China Morning Post reported.
Later, 2,000 firefighters were sent to battle a blaze on the outskirts of Beijing, which burned 50 hectares of forest.