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A wildfire reported in the East County of Lakes State in South Sudan has killed eight women. According to statements made by the police, eight women died in the bushfire while three are still missing. In all, a total of eleven women are said to have been victims of the tragic event.
Although there are conflicting reports that state that only seven were killed with one woman escaping with minor injuries, it is acknowledged that all the women were collecting grass from a forest in Pachong Payam when the fire started.
Major Elijah Mabor Makuac, spokesperson for the local police, confirmed that before the fire, the women had been cutting grass intended for thatching when the fire erupted. In a report published by South Sudanese paper Focus on Sunday, he said: “We were told that this group of women went to that forest to cut grass [sic]. As you know, these are our local materials here [sic] being used for construction, building of the houses”
Mr Makuac added that: “They were actually going there [sic] to cut the grass and, unfortunately, that tragic incident occurred on them.”
Although the cause of the fire remains unknown, it is theorised to have been started by “wreckless smokers”, hunters, or fishermen.
“Many activities are involved in that area […] You can find somebody going to cattle camps. And among our people, there are smokers who might negligently drop the fire [sic], and you could not know. Other people might be moving to the riverside for pitching,” Mr Makuac said.
South Sudanese authorities have expressed their condolences to the families of the deceased. They also issued a public safety announcement to other people where they urged the importance of being careful while cutting grass during the dry season due to the higher chance of bushfires occurring then.