(RIA Novosti) - Indonesia signed a contract with Russia Friday to rent two amphibious aircraft to fight forest fires blazing in two of the southeast Asian country's islands, a Russian emergencies ministry official said.
Yevgeny Filatov, leading a delegation to Indonesia, said the contract for two Be-200 planes was signed by Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry and Indonesia's National Coordinating Agency for Natural Disaster and Refugees Relief, reports Trend.
Fires are raging on the islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra, and have engulfed hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of their territory, while smog has covered part of neighboring Malaysia and all of Syngapore, posing a major health threat to the population.
The multipurpose turbofan Be-200 can be used as a firefighter, a cargo plane, a flying ambulance, and a passenger airliner. In its firefighting configuration, it can pick up 12 tons (26,460lb) of water by skimming over the water's surface, making it an effective weapon in extinguishing forest fires, a role in which it is used by Russia's Emergency Situations Ministry.