Haifa Police Chief Dies Raising Israel Inferno Toll to 42

The death toll from northern Israel's massive forest fire rose to 42 on Monday as Haifa's police chief, Ahuva Tomer, died in hospital of her burn injuries, public radio reported.

Tomer, 52, one of Israel's few female police chiefs, died in Rambam hospital in the Mediterranean city of Haifa where she worked, the radio reported, citing medical sources.

She suffered severe burns on Thursday, after being caught in the devastating blaze which raged through the Carmel forest south of Haifa for four days.

The blaze was finally brought under control on Sunday with the help of firefighting planes and personnel from more than 16 countries.

It was the worst fire in Israel's 62-year history, destroying millions of trees and killing a total of 42 people, most of them prison guards whose bus was trapped in the inferno shortly after the fire broke out.

A fine rain fell Monday morning on the forests of Mount Carmel.

The rain is some of the first the country has had this year, after a particularly dry summer and an unusually warm autumn. This November was the driest in nearly 50 years.

Firefighters were still on the scene, working to ensure that the blaze did not reignite.

Government officials cited by the Israeli media on Monday said the fire had caused damage estimated at two billion shekels (400 million euro, 533 million dollars).(AFP-Naharnet)

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