Singapore to send Chinook helicopters to help fight Australian bushfires

Singapore to send Chinook helicopters to help fight Australian bushfires

Australia bushfires
A burning woodchip mill in Eden, in Australia's New South Wales state on Jan 6, 2020. (Photo: AFP/SAEED KHAN)

SINGAPORE: Singapore will deploy two Chinook helicopters to aid Australia in tackling a large bushfire crisis, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday (Jan 6).

At a press conference, Mr Morrison thanked Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and said that the helicopters will head to an air base in Victoria.

"Two Singapore Chinooks are preparing to deploy from northern Australia to East Sale - which is our forward staging point in Victoria - for those operations," he said while giving updates on the fires.

READ: Singapore Red Cross pledges S$100,000 for victims of Australia bushfires, Jakarta floods

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

Almost 5 million ha have been razed across New South Wales and more than 1.2 million ha in Victoria since late September, Australian officials have said.

That took the total amount of land burnt close to 8 million ha - around the size of the island of Ireland.

Twenty-five people have lost their lives so far, with thousands of homes damaged. About 67,000 people have left or been evacuated from fire-ravaged areas in Victoria.

READ: Passengers describe Qantas flight passage through fire-generated cloud over Australia

Australia is also accepting offers of help from other countries.

"Three helicopters and an engineer company from New Zealand will arrive in Richmond and then deploy in the south coast region," Mr Morrison said on Monday, thanking New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern for the assistance.

He added that he had spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron the night before.

Mr Macron expressed his condolences and offered aid in dealing with the bushfires, which will include firefighting assistance and other engineering and environmental support, Mr Morrison said.

READ: Australian bushfires hit businesses, damage still being assessed

Forty-one US firefighters are in Victoria with a further 70 from Canada and the United States 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/Agencies/nh(hm)

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