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Eight Killed, 10 Hospitalized in Forest Fires in Eastern Ukraine

KYIV—Eight people were killed and 10 have been hospitalized as a series of forest fires swept through part of the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, the emergency service said on Thursday.

The fires threatened 22 settlements and engulfed an area of about 9,300 hectares (36 square miles), the service said in a statement, adding that 120 people had been evacuated.

Fire burns in a forest in Luhansk region
Fire burns in a forest in Luhansk region
Fire burns in a forest in Luhansk region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released on Sept. 30, 2020. (State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters)

Local authorities said there were a total of 146 fires, 82 of which had been extinguished.

Local Ukrainian authorities have said the fires may have been caused by shelling from a nearby area that is controlled by pro-Russian separatists, a crossing point to which was closed due to the fire.

The office of Ukraines president called on law enforcement bodies to find the cause of the fires, saying: “The reasons for such a large-scale spread of fire must be clearly established.”

Firefighters work at a settlement
Firefighters work at a settlement
Firefighters work at a settlement hit by a forest fire in Luhansk region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released on Oct. 1, 2020. (State Emergency Service Of Ukraine/Handout via Reuters)

“We also take into account the information about provocative shelling that could have been carried out from the temporarily occupied territory … and could have caused at least some of these fires in such weather conditions,” it said in a statement.

Last month the Ukrainian military accused pro-Russian separatists of violating a ceasefire with government forces.

Firefighters work at a settlement
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