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Fire rips through palm plantation in Egypt's New Valley - agency

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt used air force helicopters on Saturday to fight a fire which swept through palm plantations in the southwest of the country, threatening residential areas, state news agency MENA reported.

The agency said that 30 people were hurt, mostly due to smoke inhalation, from the fire which broke out on Friday near the New Valley provincial village of el-Rashda.

Authorities declared a high state of emergency and evacuated houses as firefighters, backed by four fire-fighting air force helicopters, battles the flames, the agency said.

There were no reports of deaths and most of the injured were released after treatment at a school after the local clinic was gutted by the fire, the agency said.

New Valley Governor Mohamed el-Zamlout was quoted as saying that the fire had affected a 60-feddan (62 acre) area of palm plantations and was threatening to spread to another village.

(This version of the story corrects name of province to New Valley)

(Reporting by Hesham Haj Ali and Ahmed Tolba, writing by Sami Aboudi, editing by Alexander Smith)

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