By Nigel Ash
Tripoli, 8 April 2013:
Suspicion is growing that arson was responsible for the two-day forest fire which devastated a swathe . . .[restrict]of woodland at Ra’s Hilal. Meanwhile the people of Cyrene made a point of thanking the aircrew of two firefighting planes sent from Italy to help local fire brigade units defeat the blaze.
At a ceremony held in a local hotel local councillors presented the Italian airmen with certificates honouring their role in the operation. The two Canadair CL0415 aircraft from the Italian Civil Protection Department had flown from bases at La Feezia in northern Italy and Ciampino outside Rome on Sunday morning. The two planes dropped 120,000 litres of water, scooped up from the sea, as well as fire-retardant chemicals onto the advancing flames.
The Italians, who had landed their craft at Labraq airport, spent the night near the airport before returning to Italy this morning. However one of the planes made a final survey of the burnt out forest to ensure that no further fires had broken out.