17 July 2017

Sudan: Inferno Destroys 1,500 Palm Trees in Sudan's Northern State

Abri — A huge fire consumed more than 1,500 palm trees in Northern State's Abri locality on Sunday.

"The fire broke out at the palm plantations in the area of Sab on Naluta Island at around 5 pm on Sunday, and continued until sunset," farmer Kamal Mukhtar told Radio Dabanga.

"More than 1,500 palm trees and a water engine burned to ashes."

The farmer accused the local authorities of failing to put off the fire, and demanded the provision of fire extinguishers.

He said that it was not the first time, a fire erupted in the area. "The causes are still unknown."

Arson suspected

The population of the Northern State is largely dependent on palm dates for its income, but lost a number palm plantations by fires since 2005.

About 250,000 palms were destroyed by fire in 2005 and 2016, according to statistics from the Nubian Development Committee.

Local activists suspect arson and link the incidents to the resistance by the Nubians living in the region against the Dal, Kajbar, and El Shereik hydro dams planned to be constructed in the area.

They say that the government intends to eliminate the palm tree plantations to ensure a low compensation for the palm owners who will loose their land because of the dams.

More than 1,500 palm trees and at least six water engines were destroyed in an extensive fire that broke out at Koka near Dongola, capital of Northern State in June.

In May, flames consumed about 500 trees in Artemi Island in Dolgo. In April, a huge fire in the palm-rich Sai Island, north of Abri, destroyed hundreds of palms.

In El Debba locality, more than 100 palm trees burned to ashes in December last year, while in August more than 1,000 trees went up in flames. In July, large tracts of palm orchards burned after a huge fire broke out on Dafi Island.

Villages in Dolgo, Nanarti, and Sallab also suffered from damage by fires, with losses estimated at millions of Sudanese pounds, especially during the date harvest.

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