The government would welcome any offer from neighboring countries that are keen to help."
Palembang (ANTARA News) - South Sumatra will maximize its efforts to put out forest and land fires by using the assistance of foreign aircraft, South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin stated.

The governor noted here on Monday that the efforts to extinguish the land fires using aircraft from neighboring countries would be focused on the districts of Musi Banyuasin and Ogan Koering Ilir.

He said his side will use foreign assistance in the form of aircraft to put out the fires in Musi Banyuasin and Ogan Komering Ilir as most of the hotspots in South Sumatra were found in the two districts.

Noerdin remarked that as part of the operations, the team will deploy a helicopter from Singapore and an amphibious Bombardier CL415MMP aircraft from Malaysia.

The governor expressed optimism that the operations would be effective and successful in ending the forest fires, which had been spreading as a result of the drought in South Sumatra.

Noerdin revealed that the operations will continue to be carried out until the land fires in South Kalimantan were extinguished. He added that the South Sumatra government was thankful for the foreign assistance and expressed hope that the hotspots and haze would soon disappear.

The governor stated that the protracted fires in South Sumatra, regardless of continued attempts to extinguish them, had garnered the empathy of neighboring countries to provide aircraft assistance.

The efforts undertaken so far have failed to end the fires as they had burnt the peatland areas and had occurred in far off locations.

Noerdin expressed hope that the problem of hotspots and haze would be solved by utilizing the aircraft assistance.

Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo stated on Thursday, last week, that the government of Indonesia would welcome foreign offers to help battle forest fires in the country that have caused major inconvenience by leading to haze or thick smoke that has even reached neighboring countries.

"The government would welcome any offer from neighboring countries that are keen to help," the minister affirmed here on last Thursday.

He expressed disappointment over the criticism being voiced by neighboring countries who are blaming Indonesia for the smoke being blown by strong winds from forest fires in Sumatra or Kalimantan.

"Please do not entirely place the blame on this sovereign country. If they honestly want to help, please do," he emphasized.

Kumolo remarked that the government had done its best and had taken firm measures against suspects responsible for the fire tragedy.

He noted that several palm oil plantation companies had been charged with causing the fires, and some of them were owned by investors from neighboring countries.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) is currently visiting Jambi to inspect the progress made in the attempt to put out the fires.

Meanwhile, Malaysia is reportedly planning to send a Bombardier CL415MP aircraft to Indonesia to assist in putting out the fires that have spewed thick smoke blown by the winds to that neighboring country, including Singapore.

Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein stated that the aircraft would be sent in response to the request for help put forth by President Jokowi to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"The president of Indonesia has sought assistance from the prime minister to put out forest fires in South Sumatra," Hishammuddin was quoted as saying.

"I have spoken to my Indonesian counterpart Ryamizard Ryacudu," he said, adding that the aircraft could put out fires in wide areas.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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