MOSCOW, November 29 /TASS/. Two Be-200 aircraft from the Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations have safeguarded the Israeli cities of Haifa and Jerusalem and the town of David from raging wildfires that have engulfed the region since November 25, the Russian Emergencies Ministry press service told TASS on Tuesday.
"Over that period of time, the Russian planes have carried out 22 water discharges pouring a total of 264 tonnes of water on the wildfires’ hot spots," the ministry’s source said. "The professional activities of the emergency ministry pilots have stopped the conflagration from spreading towards the outskirts of Haifa and southern Jerusalem where the bulk of the major blazes - which posed a real threat to the local population - had concentrated," the Emergencies Ministry press service said.
"Apart from extinguishing fires in Israel, the Russian Emergencies Ministry aircraft have been monitoring the Israeli countryside in search of new fires with an aim to prevent them from escalating into something more serious. Over the past 24 hours, they have inspected 2,000 square kilometers of Israeli territory," the ministry’s press service went on to say.
"The Be-200 planes are equipped with thermal and surveillance cameras that are fixed on the fuselage. That makes it possible to monitor in a 360-degree field of view, including the infrared band," the emergencies ministry representative said.
The fire situation in Israel has stabilized by now. "The Israeli authorities are expected to pass a decision on whether an international aviation group should complete its mission in Israel today," the source explained.
Earlier, the Israelis significantly praised Russian firefighting aviation technologies and the Be-200 aircraft’s capabilities in firefighting and aviation monitoring.
The Russian Emergencies Ministry Be-200 aircraft arrived in Israel, hit by a wave of wildfires, on November 25 in compliance with instructions from President Vladimir Putin and a request by the Israeli government, which had sought foreign assistance in combatting the rampant forest fires. In addition to Russia, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Cyprus, Spain, Turkey and Azerbaijan have provided Israel assistance in extinguishing the raging blazes. According to Israeli emergency services, over 130 people were hurt in the numerous fires that had broken out last week. Over 75,000 local residents were evacuated to safety. In its wake, the blazes damaged more than 200 buildings.