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EL PAIS, EL MUNDO, EL PERIODICO (Spain)

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Two forest fires have been raging in the northern region of Catalonia, in northeast Spain, since Sunday afternoon, El Pais reports. The first fire started around 1 p.m., in the region of La Jonquera, close to the French border -- the second, six hours later, in the Portbou coastal town. The flames, driven by the wind, spread quickly to the south. So far, according to the Catalan government, the fires, which affect an area of 13,000 hectares, have claimed four victims, all of which are French, and injured 24 others.

According to El Mundo, Felip Puig, the Catalonian Interior Minister said that the two fires were caused by human hand, "most certainly by a flicked cigarette." Later on Sunday, M. Puig declared that the fire was "totally out of control" (see for yourself in video below). He added that the fires were the most serious to have occurred in the area since 1986, El Pais reports.

According to local daily El Periodico, over 1,000 residents were forced to leave their homes and spend the night at points of shelter in the region. The emergency service of Catalonia has recommended the population to avoid areas where smoke and ash are present, while ashes have already reached the city of Barcelona, where the fire can be smelled.

Spanish news agency EFE reported that the central government will offer Catalonia the necessary means to put out the fires.

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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

Julián López de Mesa Samudio

-Essay-

BOGOTÁ — October 1st is International Coffee Day. Recently it seems as if every day of the calendar year commemorates something — but for Colombia, coffee is indeed special.

For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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