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    Locust swarms threaten crops in UAE

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    ABU DHABI, February 21 (RIA Novosti) - The United Arab Emirates has seen its largest swarms of desert locusts in 25 years, which could threaten crops, national media reported on Thursday.

    Desert locusts migrate from Africa across the UAE and Saudi Arabia to Iran about every five years, and some groups fly as far as India and Pakistan.

    The first swarms appeared in western regions of the UAE around a week ago. Recently, agriculture authorities detected the pests in the eastern emirate of Al Fujairah along the coast of the Gulf of Oman.

    The country's last locust plague was seen a quarter of a century ago, according to the Al-Bayan newspaper. However, the paper quoted authorities in Al Fujairah as saying such a large number of the insects had not been witnessed in the country in 50 years.

    The insects have destroyed over 10% of vegetation in the Al Buraimi Oasis in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, mostly forests and date palms, the Al-Ittihad newspaper reported.

    Authorities have called on farmers not to panic.

    "This is not a dangerous situation at the moment. We have ground operations ready but the swarms are small," acting deputy minister, Abdullah Ahmad Bin Abdul Aziz, said, adding that the situation was under control.

    The Gulf News portal quoted an official from the country's Ministry of Environment and Water as saying that locusts as yet pose no major threat to farmers.

    Desert locusts are considered the highly dangerous pests because of their ability to cover long distances at great speed.

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