China issues forest fire red alert

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China's National Forest Fire Prevention Headquarters issued a red alert Monday, the highest warning for forest fires, due to unusually high temperatures in north China and possible lightning strikes in the next two days.

Temperatures in northern China's Heilongjiang, Hebei and Shanxi provinces and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region have been at record high in the past month. Coupled with insufficient rainfall, the risk of forest fires has increased, the headquarters said.

The headquarters warned of possible forest fires triggered by lightning strikes in northern and southern parts of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Inner Mongolia and some parts of northeast China in the next two days.

As of 12 a.m Monday, more than 9,000 people have been battling a forest fire in Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia that started Saturday afternoon.

Sun Zhagen, deputy director of the headquarters, left for the fire scene in Heilongjiang Monday to directly oversee the fire fighting.

The headquarters urged local governments to beef up forest fire prevention efforts and ensure people's safety.

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