Fires in Portugal: Switzerland sends helicopters to help tackle blazes

Bern, 19.08.2017 - Wildfires are currently raging across several regions of Portugal. Responding to a call for assistance by Portuguese authorities, Switzerland is dispatching three helicopters and crews to help contain the fires.

Numerous wildfires have been burning across Portugal this summer, leaving thousands of hectares of forest reduced to ashes. With several parts of the country still battling active fires, the authorities have appealed for international assistance.

The Federal Council gave its approval to send three Super Puma army helicopters and a crew of some 30 military personnel, which set off from Switzerland today. Following a stopover in northern Spain, they will commence fire-fighting operations from the Monte Real base, 120km north of Lisbon.

The Swiss Armed Forces will be supported in the region by Swiss Humanitarian Aid (part of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation of the FDFA), which has dispatched a team of four – a liaison officer, a logistics specialist, an expert in forest fires and a team leader – to assist in coordination with the Portuguese authorities.

This is the second joint mission this summer between Swiss Humanitarian Aid and the Swiss Armed Forces: last month Switzerland dispatched helicopters to help contain fires in Montenegro.

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