Australia provides equipment to fire affected areas

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Australian Government has expanded its contribution to Indonesian efforts to mitigate the effects and spread of the forest and peat fires which are causing widespread health issues across Indonesia.

Through the Indonesian Red Cross, Australia will help provide vital equipment in Riau, East Kalimantan and West Kalimantan to give immediate relief to communities suffering respiratory and other illnesses as a direct result of the smoke haze.

"Through the Indonesian Red Cross, we can reach out to those communities worst affected with safe houses, ambulances, medical teams, emergency oxygen and 30,000 face masks," Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Paul Grigson said as quoted by the Australian Embassy here on its official website on Wednesday.

According to Indonesian authorities, more than 500,000 Indonesians are suffering from respiratory problems caused by the haze. Australias contribution of AUD300,000 to the Indonesian Red Cross will support its health activities in the three provinces over the next three months.

It follows the deployment of two aircraft, a Lockheed L100 Hercules water tanker, "Thor" and a support plane which joined international efforts, dropping more than 300,000 litres of water in South Sumatra last month.(*)