Nepal battles worst forest fire in decades
Nepal is battling its worst forest fires in years, officials said on Friday, with smoke wafting across its mountains and souring the air as it settles into the bowl that holds capital city Kathmandu.
Five people have died so far trying to put out the fires that have been raging since January, said Sundar Sharma, a senior official of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority.
Details on losses from the fires are still being collected, Sharma said. This has been the worst fire season by number since 2012, when the government started keeping records.
More than 2,700 wildfires have been reported in Nepal since November, 14 times higher than in the same period last year, the government said.
Forest fires often erupt in Nepal during the January-May dry season, when villagers burn dry leaves in the woodlands to prompt fresh grass growth for their cattle.