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One of Russian planes fighting Carmel wildfire Photo: Nir Cohen
One of Russian planes fighting Carmel wildfire Photo: Nir Cohen
 
Aerial firefighting aircraft in action Photo: Arik Nissimov, firefighting services
Aerial firefighting aircraft in action Photo: Arik Nissimov, firefighting services
 
 

Evergreen Supertanker on its way to Israel

(Video) As Russian planes continue battling Carmel wildfire, government rents Boeing 747-200 modified into aerial firefighting aircraft; plane expected to arrive Saturday night. Palestinian President Abbas telephones PM Netanyahu, offers 'any help needed'

Roni Sofer
Published: 12.04.10, 16:59 / Israel News

VIDEO - Efforts to put out Carmel wildfire continue: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday ordered an immediate transfer of the budget needed to rent the Evergreen Supertanker, a Boeing 747-200 modified into an aerial firefighting aircraft. The plane is expected to land in Israel on Saturday night.

 

Considered the largest aerial firefighting aircraft in the world, the supertanker has a capacity of about 80,000 liters of water (24,000 US gallons), 16 times the capacity of an average firefighting tanker.

 

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Ten firefighting aircrafts are currently fighting the Carmel wildfire: Four from Cyprus, two from Turkey, two from Russia and one from France. In addition, three helicopters have arrived from Cyprus and two from Britain. Nine more firefighting planes are expected to arrive in Israel on Sunday: Five from Spain, three from the United States and one from Germany.

 

American plane in action (archives)

 

The Russian aid to Israel included two Illyushin II-76 firefighting aircraft and a B200 plane. Two firefighting helicopters are expected to go into action on Sunday. "We believe we can help you gain control of the fire," said a senior Russian army officer. Twenty-two Russian aerial and fire experts arrived in Israel as well.

 

The senior Russian officials arrived at the fire command post at Haifa University, where they met with Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch. The minister praised the Russian delegation for "changing the balance".

 

"I expect to work closely with you, as the person appointed by the government to deal with this national disaster," he added. "You will receive all the help possible from the IDF and will be able to set up your own operations room here. The IDF and State of Israel will care for anything you need. We thank Russia for what it is doing for Israel here."

 

The Russian firefighters, who put out a major fire which broke out in the Moscow area over the summer, will try to help Israel in the same way.

 

'Neighbors should ways help each other'

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered his military secretary Yohanan Locker to look into the possibility of purchasing large firefighting planes which would be used by Israel in future fires. The proposal may be presented to the cabinet during its weekly meeting, expected to be held Sunday in the northern city of Tirat Carmel.

 

Netanyahu on Saturday spoke to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who expressed his condolences to the people of Israel over the Carmel wildfire casualties and said he would give Israel any help required.

 

During the conversation, which was defined by the Prime Minister's Office as "warm and friendly," Netanyahu said that "neighbors should always help each other." He added that he had decided to set up a lineup of fire extinguishing planes, which would also serve Israel's neighboring countries and the Palestinian Authority in times of need.

 

Abbas told Netanyahu that under such circumstances, the Palestinians had no hesitations and would provide any humanitarian aid possible.

 

Attila Somfalvi, Ali Waked and Polina Grayev contributed to this report

 

 

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