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Valencia - A pilot was missing and two others were injured on Monday after two helicopters crashed while battling Spanish wildfires that have forced thousands of people from their homes, officials said.
The first helicopter came down near the Forata reservoir, near the eastern port of Valencia, and its sole pilot was missing, a spokesperson for the local emergency services said.
“A team is still looking for him,” she said.
The second helicopter crashed in the Sierra Martes and its two pilots were injured and taken to hospital, said a spokesperson for the central government's representative in the region of Aragon, where the aircraft are based.
No further information about their condition was available.
Both helicopters were battling a blaze that erupted on Thursday in a hilly and wooded region near Cortes de Palla.
Throughout the weekend around 2 000 firefighters backed by 40 helicopters and airplanes battled the blaze at Cortes de Palla as well as another wildfire raging close to the nearby town of Andilla.
Local residents, armed with buckets of water, joined firefighters in the battle against the two wildfires which have so far charred nearly 50 000 hectares of land, the regional government of Valencia said.
The fires led to the evacuation of 3 000 people, although many have since been allowed to return home. They also forced the closure of several roads on Monday.
Earlier on Monday, officials said firefighters, aided by cooler temperatures and higher air humidity levels, were gaining the upper hand on the blazes.
“What we have to do now is start the reconstruction work,” Spain's Agriculture Minister Miguel Arias Canete said on Monday after visiting the site of the wildfires.
Spain is going through its worst drought in 70 years. - Sapa-AFP