Australia fires: RSAF Chinooks to bring relief supplies, help with evacuation

Australia fires: RSAF Chinooks to bring relief supplies, help with evacuation

RSAF chinooks to assist Australian forces 2
The deployment includes pilots, air crew and engineers. (Photo: Facebook / Ng Eng Hen)

SINGAPORE: Two Chinook helicopters from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will be used to bring in firefighting and relief supplies and to help evacuate people from areas affected by the Australian bushfires.

READ: SAF working with Australia to identify support options over bushfires: Australian PM

The Chinooks took off from Oakey, Australia with 42 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers bound for the Royal Australian Air Force base in East Sale, Victoria, said Singapore Defence Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Jan 7).

Singapore soldiers will work alongside the Australian Defence Force to help with relief efforts, Dr Ng added.

“Our Chinooks will bring in firefighting and relief supplies and also help evacuate residents from the affected areas," the minister said.

RSAF chinooks to assist Australian forces
Republic of Singapore Air Force personnel load a Chinook bound for Victoria, Australia. (Photo: Facebook / Ng Eng Hen)

RSAF deploys personnel, Chinooks to assist in Australian firefighting
Two Republic of Singapore Air Force Chinooks took off from Oakey, Australia on Jan 7, 2020 bound for a Royal Australian Air Force base in Victoria to assist in relief efforts. (Photo: Facebook / Ng Eng Hen)

His announcement comes a day after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Singapore would deploy two Chinook helicopters to help tackle the bushfire crisis.

Dr Ng said: "Australia has welcomed SAF troops to train there for decades, and in their time of great need, it’s only natural that the SAF do our best to help their people and communities affected by this unexpected natural disaster."

READ: Firefighters hit out at Australia PM over bushfire response

READ: Rain brings brief respite in Australian bushfire crisis

Devastation from Australian bushfires
This picture taken on Jan 6, 2020 shows gutted houses from bushfires in Mogo Village in Australia's New South Wales state. (Photo: AFP / SAEED KHAN)

Devastation after Australia fires in New South Wales
This picture taken on Jan 6, 2020 shows charred vehicles gutted by bushfires in Mogo Village in Australia's New South Wales state. (Photo: AFP / SAEED KHAN)

Raging bushfires have killed more than 20 people across southeastern Australia.

More than 60,000 sq km have been burnt across the country in the months-long crisis. The bushfire season started earlier than normal this year following a three-year drought that has left much of the country's bushland tinder-dry and vulnerable to fires.

“Still raging, the bushfires have already destroyed more than 6 million hectares – 80 Singapores! – and killed half a billion animals, not to mention the tragic loss of human lives,” Dr Ng said.

Forty-one United States firefighters are in Victoria with another 70 from Canada and the US expected to join on Jan 8, the Victoria Country Fire Authority said on Twitter.

In the biggest-ever call up of reserves, military teams were deployed across eastern Australia to help emergency services assess the damage, restore power and deliver supplies of food, water and fuel to cut-off communities.

For the first time in Australian history, the government also deployed its medical assistance team - normally sent to other nations to lend support in the aftermath of their disasters - to help evacuees.


Source: CNA/aa

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