PUTRAJAYA, Jan 8 — The Cabinet today approved plans to send a firefighting and rescue team to Australia, which is currently facing one of its worst bushfire crisis, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said.
The mission, to be coordinated by two officers from the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA), will involve a 39-member team from the Fire and Rescue Department, 29 personnel from the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (SMART) and two Malaysian Civil Defence Force personnel, she said.
“Allocations from the National Disaster Relief Trust Fund (KWABBN) will be used, with some RM2.1 million estimated to be used for a two-week period,” she said in a statement issued by NADMA today.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is Nadma chairman, said the mission, however, can only proceed after obtaining the green light from the Australian government and a safety advisory go ahead from the Foreign Ministry and the Malaysian High Commission in Australia.
Dr Wan Azizah added that as the bushfires were widespread, the mission is expected to come with safety risks.
“Personnel involved will be advised to take all necessary safety precautions. The team will also have medical and insurance coverage protection,” she added.
Last Sunday, Dr Wan Azizah said Malaysia was ready to extend assistance to Australia in its ongoing bushfires, which according to her demonstrated Malaysia’s concern with the crisis based on the strong bilateral relations enjoyed by both nations.
According to the deputy prime minister, Malaysia has the necessary capability and experience in forest firefighting abroad based on its involvement in the mission to fight the forest fires in Kalimantan in 1997 and Riau in 2005.
Australia is facing its worst bushfire since September last year, with New South Wales state on the East Coast being one of the worst hit.
To date, some 2,000 homes have been destroyed with 25 deaths reported. — Bernama