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Natural Disasters

Sweden battles massive forest fires

Firefighters in Sweden are struggling to contain a fast-moving wildfire that has killed at least one person and ripped through huge swaths of dense forest. The fire could take weeks to bring under control.

Swedish firefighters on Tuesday found the body of a man burned to death in a huge forest blaze that started five days ago, engulfing homes and tearing a path of destruction through a vast area of woodland in central Sweden.

More than 1,000 people had to be evacuated on Monday night from villages in the province of Vastmanland, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of the capital Stockholm. Thousands more locals have since been put on alert and told to prepare to leave their homes.

A truck driver was also hospitalized with severe burns after his vehicle was surrounded by flames.

"It was thick with smoke and I heard the forest was blazing. They were water bombing just above where we live," Tommy Persson, one of the evacuees, told Swedish news agency TT.

Emergency services estimate it could take some weeks to bring the fire under control.

Firefighters are currently being aided by 13 helicopters doing water drops over the affected area, but thick smoke and difficult terrain have hampered their efforts. Italy and France have sent firefighting aircraft to help fight the blaze.

It's unclear what sparked the fire - one of the largest seen in Sweden in recent decades. Hot, dry weather conditions are making it tricky for firefighters to bring the flames under control.

nm/tj (AP, AFP)

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