Russian jets join Indonesian fire fighting operations

Two Beriev Be-200 planes started dousing fires on the island of Sumatra.

Two Russian Beriev Be-200 planes that were leased by the Indonesian government started firefighting operations in the island of Sumatra on October 22.

Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told reporters that the planes arrived in Palembang on October 21 and would be immediately deployed to fight the fires that are raging on the island.

The forest fires on Sumatra have created a haze in cites as far away as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Phuket. Reports from the local media in Southeast Asia indicate that seven people have died due to acute respiratory infections caused by the haze.  The haze has also led to a closure of academic institutions and even flight diversions.

The Russian Beriev aircraft can suck 13,000 liters of water from a river or sea within seconds.  They were used by the Indonesian authorities to fight forest fires in Kalimantan in 2008. 

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