Belarusian helicopter to help Greece tackle forest fires

     Belarusian helicopter to help Greece tackle forest fires

2 June 2008

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Belarus — A helicopter of the Belarusian emergency management ministry has left for Greece that is gearing up for the forest fire season, Vital Navitski, spokesman for the ministry, told BelaPAN.

Authorities in Greece concluded a 112-day contract with the Belarusian ministry for the use of the Mi-26. The deal may be extended by 30 days.

The rescue team includes 18 people, with 12 accounting for the crew and six for officers of ground services, the spokesman said.

The craft has a water system capable of carrying 15 tons of water.

Last year devastating wild fires killed 65 people in Greece. They also scorched thousands of hectares of forest and farmland, destroyed villages and threatened archaeological site.

Meteorologists predict that temperatures could hit 46 Celsius this summer.

The Mi-26 helicopter, the heaviest and most powerful helicopter in the world, was designed for carrying large-size cargoes weighing up to 20 tons.

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