HAIFA, Israel, Dec 3, 2010 (From AFP) - On Friday thousands of Israeli firemen and rescuers fought to control a massive forest fire that has killed 41 people, as global help poured in to battle the biggest inferno in the country's history. As high winds drove the blaze towards the northern port city of Haifa, police and medical officials said rescuers had recovered another body, taking the toll to 41, and warned the number of dead could still rise. Rosenfeld said 15,000 people had been evacuated as the fire incinerated more than 10,000 acres (over 4,000 hectares) of land and reached the southern part of Haifa, Israel's third-largest city with a population of 265,000. As the Carmel mountains continued to burn more than 24 hours after the blaze started, at least four Canadair water bombers could be seen flying through the smoke-choked skies, pouring water and fire retardant onto the vast flames. Two fire-fighting choppers and three small planes were also involved in the huge task of curbing the inferno Rescue officials said firefighters had still not managed to control the fire, and video footage showed much of the horizon engulfed in flames, with plumes of thick black smoke pouring into the air. Fire and rescue officials said it was not immediately clear what caused the blaze, which swept through the pine forest covering the Carmel hill ridge, one of Israel's most popular beauty spots.
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