Singapore is deploying two Chinook helicopters to help Australia’s effort in tackling a bush fire crisis, said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday (6 Jan).
The burning since September have intensified recently, killing 25 people and destroying thousands of homes. About 67,000 people have vacated or been evacuated from the fire-ravaged areas in Victoria.
Thousands of tourists, heeding that warning, abandoned their summer holidays on a popular 300-kilometre (190-mile) length of the southeastern coastline, prompting queues of cars stretching toward Sydney and Canberra.
Mr Morrison thanked Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong for the support aid, and added that both Chinook helicopters will head to a staging point in the state of 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,” said Mr Morrison.
Australian officials have said that more than 1.2 million hectares have been destroyed in Victoria and 5 million hectares across New South Wales since last September.
“Three helicopters and an engineer company from New Zealand will arrive in Richmond and then deploy in the south coast region,” said Mr Morrison, thanking New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern.
He further added he had spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron the night before. Australia is also accepting aid offers from other countries.
Mr Macron expressed his condolences and offered aid in dealing with the bush fires which will include firefighting assistance and other environmental and engineering support, he said.
“41 U.S. firefighters are already in Victoria, with an additional 70 firefighters from Canada and the U.S. expected to join on 8 January”, the Victoria Country Fire Authority noted on Twitter yesterday.
Military teams were deployed across eastern Australia in the biggest-ever call up for reserves. The call up is to help emergency services assess the damage, restore power, and deliver supplies of food, water, and fuel to cut-off communities.