Australia calls in reserve forces to tackle bushfire crisis

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 04, 2020, 10.35 AM(IST) Edited By: Abhilash Mahajan

File photo: Smoke billows during bushfires in Bairnsdale, Australia. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Presently, 2000 military personnel have already been assisting to tackle the crisis. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday that 3000 military reserves were called up, the largest in living memory, to tackle country's massive bushfires. 

"Today's decision puts more boots on the ground, puts more planes in the sky, puts more ships at sea," said Morrison.    

Australia bushfires

Australian prime minister also said that defence force bases would provide temporary accommodation to the ones rescued and A$20 million ($14 million) would be spent to lease four fire-fighting planes to deal with the raging bushfires. 

Also read: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison defers trip to India, Japan as bushfire crisis looms

"The scale of the fires is stretching resources on the ground and there are clearly communities that need additional help," Morrison added. 

Australia bushfires

In pics: Fierce wildfires fuelled by searing temperatures, high winds in Australia continue to rage

To oversee the military's actions on the bushfire-crisis, a two-star general has also been appointed. HMAS Adelaide, a helicopter carrier, has also been deployed to carry out evacuations near the border of the states of New South Wales and Victoria.  

Also read: Australian navy evacuates people trapped in Mallacoota as bushfires rage

Australia's military is providing aerial, search and rescue and logistics support for months to fight the months-long disaster.  

Presently, 2000 military personnel have already been assisting to tackle the crisis. 

"The Government has not taken this decision lightly," said minister of defence Marise Payne. "It is the first time that reserves have been called out in this way in living memory and, in fact, I believe for the first time in our nation's history."

A much smaller number of the reserved forces provided assistance last year too to deal with bushfire-hit Queensland. 

At least 23 people are killed in this season's bushfires, which is fuelled by climate change and droughts. More than 5 million hectares (13 million acres) of land has been destroyed. 

(with inputs from AFP and Reuters)