Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has visited the Canary Islands to see the extent of the fire damage on Gran Canaria and Tenerife. Fires have devastated 35,000 hectares of forest on the islands in recent days. Zapatero announced that he had called an extraordinary meeting of the government for this Friday to vote a bill to assist all the victims of the fires. He says the government aid will be in addition to the funds already promised by local administrations. Authorities say the fires on the two islands have been stabilized and many of the thousands of people evacuated from their homes earlier are now able to return. Others have lost their homes and belongings. Arial and satellite pictures show that the fires have stopped spreading. Fire fighting aircraft and helicopters along with 900 firefighters and rescue workers have been deployed. Additional aircraft are expected to back up those already in operation. Spanish environmentalists estimate as much as 25 per cent of the forests on the Canary Islands have been wiped out in six days. They describe it as an environmental catastrophe reporting that wildlife and vegetation unique to the Canary Islands have suffered immensely in the intense heat and flames. The environmentalists say the fires are among the worst ever experienced in Spain.
Spanish PM inspects fire damage on Canary Islands