Envoy: Indonesia needs water-bombing aircraft to put out fires

Envoy: Indonesia needs water-bombing aircraft to put out fires
PHOTO: AFP

BANGI - Indonesia needs more equipment and not firemen to help put out its fires, said Indonesian Embassy minister counsellor Freddy M. Panggabean.

He cited equipment, especially water-bombing aircraft, to fly over the hundreds of fire hotspots that have been emitting haze over Malaysia.

"From the beginning, we never required any personnel (or) staff assistance to help with this haze problem because we have enough.

"What we need (is) the equipment and aircraft with the bigger capacity to carry water (of more than) 6,000 (litres)," he said at a forum on the haze at UKM.

It was previously reported that the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department had not received any official request from Indonesia to send firemen to put out its fires.

Department director-general Datuk Wira Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim had said that 1,500 firemen were available for two weeks for this purpose.

Hundreds of hotspots have been raging in various parts of Indonesia, especially Sumatra and Kalimantan, over the past two months.

Panggabean said that 32 helicopters and aircraft were already deployed over Indonesia to put out the fires.

Six of these were from Australia, Malaysia and Singapore. This includes seven fixed wing water-bombers and four planes for cloud seeding.

Two Russian Beriev Be-200 amphibious water-bombers, capable of dropping 12,000 litres each, have also been brought in.

Panggabean did not say how many more aircraft Indonesia needed for the fires.

Meteorological Department spokesman Dr Hisham Mohd Anip said that the northeast monsoon was expected to kick in soon.

This, he said, meant that the haze might be pushed back by winds from the South China Sea heading west next week.

"We predict that by the middle or end of next week, it (skies) will be clear, hopefully," he said.

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