Huge fire at Nile nature reserve to be investigated by Egyptian prosecutors

Blaze started on Wednesday night, causing widespread panic

A massive blaze that alighted at a nature reserve in the middle of the Nile river just south of the Upper Egyptian city of Aswan. The cause of the fire has not been determined by officials.  Photo: Abdelnasser Saber

Egyptian authorities have launched an investigation into a huge fire at a nature reserve in Aswan on Wednesday night, the environment ministry said.

The incident, which caused no injuries, has been referred to the country’s prosecutor-general who will launch an investigation to determine its exact cause and outline the losses, expenses and repairs, Aswan’s governor said.

Videos shared on social media showed smoke billowing from the fire in the Salouga and Ghazal Nature Reserve on Wednesday night, causing panic among onlookers, many of whom were shocked by the speed with which it spread.

Firefighters arrived quickly, said the governor’s statement. They used motorboats to surround the island from all sides and put the fire out.

The environmental cost, including the number of animals that died, remains to be seen.

Preliminary investigations determined that the fire started in one of the reserve’s grass plains and was stoked by strong winds in the area on Wednesday night.

The reserve is made up of a collection of small islands in the middle of the Nile.

It is about three kilometres north of the river's first cataract.

The reserve was declared a protectorate in 1986 under Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak. The aim was to protect the biological diversity there, animals found in the reserve including camels, African wild ass, goats, red foxes and hyenas.

The reserve is also home to a variety of bird species, both resident and migratory.

Updated: March 10, 2022, 3:04 PM