A massive forest fire raged out of control near the northern Israeli city of Haifa on Thursday, forcing police to evacuate Palestinian inmates from a nearby prison and warn locals they might be forced to leave.
At least 40 people were with many others injured, the Israeli rescue service said. Israeli media said all of those who died had been aboard a bus that was trying to evacuate Palestinian prisoners from the blaze in the Carmel Forest. The reports said prison guards have been in the vehicle.
Meanwhile, about 20 families from the Druze village of Ussafiya had been evacuated from their homes as flames swept through the pine forest that covers the Carmel hill ridge.
Israeli public radio said that the fire covered "thousands of dunams" and that parts of Haifa university had been evacuated, along with a kibbutz, a hotel and the Damon prison, which houses 500 Palestinian prisoners.