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Kazakhstan mourns 14 forestry workers killed in wildfire

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ALMATY (Reuters) – Flags were lowered across Kazakhstan on Monday as the country mourned 14 forestry workers killed in a wildfire in the eastern Abai region.

Firefighters were still struggling to contain the blaze raging across 43,000 hectares (106,000 acres) of land in the Central Asian nation, the government said.

Officials said they had last heard from the workers on Thursday last week and their bodies were found on Saturday.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sacked Emergencies Minister Yuri Ilyin over the weekend, saying “criminal negligence” was behind the disaster.

The new minister, Syrym Sharipkhanov, said it could still take a few more days to extinguish the blaze, news website Tengrinews.kz reported.

He said about 1,500 people equipped with hundreds of vehicles and 12 helicopters were working at the scene, in the region the borders Russia and China.

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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