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At Least Five People Killed As Forest Fires Rage In Ukraine's East


Authorities in Kyiv say the fires are threatening 22 settlements around the line of contact between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists.

KYIV -- Ukrainian officials say massive forest fires in Ukraine's eastern region of Luhansk have killed at least five people.

Ten people were also hospitalized and 120 others were evacuated as a series of forest fires hit the Novoaydar, Starobilsk, and Stanychno-Luhansk districts, the State Service for Emergency Situations (DSNS) said in a statement on October 1.

According to the DSNS, more than 1,000 firefighters have been dispatched to try to put out the fires, which it said spread across areas totaling about 18,000 hectares.

The fires are threatening 22 settlements around the line of contact between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists in the Luhansk region, it said.

The conflict between Ukrainian armed forces and the separatists in Luhansk and the neighboring region of Donetsk has killed more than 13,200 people since April 2014.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's office called on law enforcement officials to find the cause of the fire.

The statement cited "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."

With reporting by Reuters
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