The Malta Independent 11 December 2018, Tuesday

Watch: PD asks - Why wasn’t the fire at Maqluba put out?

Thursday, 16 August 2018, 10:44 Last update: about 5 months ago

Partit Demokratiku noted with deep concern the lack of timely action to extinguish a fire which broke out at Il-Maqluba – a Natura 2000 site Il-Maqluba consists of a deep, natural large-scale inland sinkhole.

What has been described by people in the area as a big fire with high flames, started on the eve of the feast of Santa Maria, in all likelihood due to a stray fireworks petard being let off in close proximity to the site.

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Almost 24 hours later, with a considerable area of the terrain having been completely scorched, the unchecked fire was still active and slow-moving.

The science of producing and launching pyrotechnics in Malta is a strong and beautiful tradition requiring much dedication and skill and deserves to remain a staple of Maltese and Gozitan culture and tradition. Being a sophisticated form of art in itself, fireworks play a very important cohesive role in our communities, not to mention the incalculable contribution and added value to the touristic product of our islands, the PD said.

It is the same pyrotechnic clubs which pay for the services of the Civil Protection Department during the fireworks display events and it remains squarely incumbent on the Civil Protection to provide safety and security to life, property and our natural and cultural heritage, Il-Maqluba being of the highest possible grade.

Il-Maqluba is a unique ecosystem with its own unique micro-climate which supports an important population of native tree communities, dominated by the Bay Laurel tree, which is locally rare, and including the National Tree, the Sandarac Gum Tree. This site is also home to a number of other rare species of plants and fungi, such as the Maltese Salt Tree, which are found only in Malta. Moreover it is a delicate nesting area for Malta’s national bird – the Blue Rock thrush, il-Merill.

PD appeals to ERA to send a team of experts to evaluate the damage caused by the fire and to prepare a report with recommended measures for its continued protection and conservation with special emphasis on future fireworks events to prevent a future occurrence like this one.

Malta needs to do more to be prepared for such crises, especially in the context of climate change which phenomenon is manifesting itself more and more across the globe, not least in Malta.

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