Colombian authorities reported Wednesday that there are 35 wild fires ravaging the countryside around Colombia and predicted the drought will last longer than previously expected.
The Colombian Office for the Prevention and Attention of Disasters (SIGPAD) said that firefighters have three of the 35 wildfires under control.
To date, SIGPAD has registered 347 municipalities in 23 departments and 33,186 hectares of land affected by the blazes.
Fire are burning in the departments of Antioquia, Arauca, Boyaca, Casanare, Cundinamarca, Meta and Tolima.
Colombia is experiencing a particularly dry period due to the El Niño phenomenon.
Director General of Colombia’s environmental agency IDEAM Ricardo Lozano said Wednesday that the El Niño phenomenon is now predicted to extend into the second trimester of 2010.
Lozano said the rainy season may also begin later than its expected arrival time in March.
“It is very likely that there will be a deficit of rain oscillating between 20 and 40% in the Carribbean region and between 40 and 70% in the eastern plains and Andean region, in particular in [the departments of] Valle del Cauca, Tolima, Huila, Cundinamarca, Boyaca, Santander, Norte de Santander and Cesar,” Lozano said.