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Governor General Declares State of Emergency in Toledo District Due to Wildfires

Governor General Froyla Tzalam has declared a state of emergency for the entire Toledo District due to wildfires that have been raging out of control for the past couple of days, threatening wildlife, homes, and farms, and even leading to the closure of schools.

The proclamation, which was signed into law on May 19, specifically centers on the village of San Pedro Columbia and adjacent communities in the Toledo District, which are under close scrutiny by the National Emergency Management Organization.

NEMO, along with the Ministry of Blue Economy, has been on the ground all weekend assessing the situation and quoted, "Based on the reconnaissance report, there is currently no immediate fire threat to San Pedro Columbia, Crique Jute, Mafredi, Nah Lum Cah, or San Antonio. NEMO will remain in contact with the chairpersons and alcaldes and will continue to monitor the situation over the next few days."

The NEMO Toledo district operations inform residents that if needed, their emergency operations center is on high alert and stands ready to provide immediate firefighting and humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, they added that they are conducting damage and needs assessments in the affected areas as well as search and rescue operations.

Chairman of San Pedro Columbia Village, Basilicia Choco, reported that despite residents' attempts to quell the various forest fires that have been threatening the village, the fires continue to pop up. With the very thick layer of smoke, Choco says that residents are starting to get sick, leading the Ministry of Education to cancel classes on Monday.

But wildfires aren't the only thing threatening the southern village, as reports say that the drought is also affecting people's livelihoods.

One report from the Belize Audubon Society reads, "The severe dry season in southern Belize has caused the South Stann Creek River to dry up, making river tubing activities impossible at Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary (CBWS)."

According to the report, "The river's water level has dropped so low that parts of the riverbed are now exposed, leaving river recreational activities at a standstill." They say that the current conditions are unprecedented and with no rain in sight, the situation remains uncertain.

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