Argentina declares emergency over bushfire

Updated on Apr 19, 2008 08:24 PM IST

The federal highway department urges people not to drive from the capital and Greater Buenos Aires areas toward the interior of the country due to lack of visibility.

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IANS | By, Buenos Aires

Argentina has declared a state of emergency and shut down highways, as smoke from huge bushfires to clear pasture, was making visibility in and around the capital impossible, Spain's EFE news agency reported.

The federal highway department has urged people not to drive from the capital and Greater Buenos Aires areas toward the interior of the country due to lack of visibility, the report said Friday.

The main bus station in Buenos Aires was closed on Friday and the capital's domestic airport was only in service for departures. Inbound flights were diverted to Ezeiza international terminal on the outskirts of the city.

The problem started when huge fires ravaged some 70,000 hectares of scrubland on the islands of the Parana River delta - around 160 km north of the city - and the winds spread the smoke, which even reached parts of neighbouring Uruguay.

Environment Secretary Romina Picolotti said the situation is critical. She said the government would punish those who are responsible for the fire.

Weather officials said the northerly winds, which carried the smoke from the delta to the city of Buenos Aires and in the adjoining areas, would continue to blow over the next few days.

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