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MFA waiting for details of Indonesia’s needs

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) today (Oct 8) said it was waiting for Indonesia to provide more details on which of the assets offered under the haze assistance package the latter would require.

A wooden boat is seen on Air Sugihan river during haze shrouds in Ogan Komering Ilir, Indonesia's South Sumatra province, October 7, 2015. Photo: Antara Foto via Reuters

A wooden boat is seen on Air Sugihan river during haze shrouds in Ogan Komering Ilir, Indonesia's South Sumatra province, October 7, 2015. Photo: Antara Foto via Reuters

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SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) today (Oct 8) said it was waiting for Indonesia to provide more details on which of the assets offered under the haze assistance package the latter would require.

“We have received a formal note from Indonesia, stating that Indonesia ‘welcome(d) the cooperation offered by Singapore to suppress large-scale forest fires in Indonesia’,” said an MFA spokesperson.  

Earlier today, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said that Indonesia was hoping for at least three aircraft from Singapore and Russia to help douse the fires. “What we need now are planes that can carry 12 to 15 tonnes of water, not like the 2 to 3 tonnes we have now,” Mr Widodo said.

As part of the haze assistance package, Singapore has offered one C-130 aircraft for cloud-seeding operations, which will depend on cloud conditions, as well as one Chinook helicopter with one 5,000-litre heli-bucket under-slung. 

The Chinook helicopter will be used for the aerial fire-fighting and water-bombing efforts, while the heli-bucket will be operated by a Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF). 

The SCDF’s fire-fighting assistance team, which will not be involved in fighting the flames on the ground, will assist Indonesian authorities in field planning. They will also make recommendations on how best to deploy resources needed for fire-fighting operations. They will be led by a senior SCDF officer who is “experienced in conducting rapid assessment for fire-fighting operations”, the MFA spokesperson said.

Up to two C-130 aircraft will be on standby to provide further support. Singapore has also offered to share its high resolution satellite pictures and hotspot coordinates.

Writing on Facebook, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said he was glad that the Indonesian leaders have stated publicly that they accept Singapore’s help. The Chinook helicopter, which was previously used to put out forest fires in Chiang Mai, will be able to take off “once the Indonesians’ approval is given”, he said. A Super Puma helicopter with a 2,000 litre heli-bucket could also be activated if needed, he added.

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