Singapore-Thailand — The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has mobilised helicopters to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand to help put out forest fires raging in the area, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in a Facebook post today (March 18).
The SAFs C-130 aircraft will deliver a 5000L water bucket from the Singapore Civil Defence Force, following which two SAF CH-47 Chinooks will be deployed to conduct aerial fire-fighting and ferry operations, said Dr Ng. The two Chinooks are currently in Thailand for Exercise Cope Tiger in the Nakon Ratchasima province.
Dr Ng added in his post: Lets support our SAF men and women who are tasked for this mission that they will do their job well and keep safe.
The Bangkok Post today reported that Singapore had agreed to a request from Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, and deployed the two helicopters.
Forest fires, which were reported burning in various provinces in the north, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son and Tak, were adding to smoke haze over the region, said the newspaper.
The newspaper also reported that the Thai army sent one Mi-17 transport helicopter and two Huey helicopters to Chiang Mai to help contain the fires, while the air force is deploying a C-130 transport aircraft.
Mr Prayuth said yesterday that he planned to set up a special unit to cope with forest fires and would procure aircraft for the purpose because existing aircraft were old and unsafe. The Thai army has decommissioned all its Chinook helicopters for lack of spare parts for repairs, The Bangkok Post said.