A firefighter in Australia, January 5, 2020. - PETER PARKS / AFP
France is going to mission five experts to Australia to help fight against the gigantic forest fires which ravage the country, and is ready to send a hundred people if necessary, announced Tuesday the Minister of the Interior Christophe Castaner.
The "five experts" sent on site must offer support to the Australian authorities "on aerial control strategies, on the fight against forest fires in crisis management and on other specialties," said Christophe Castaner before the National Assembly, recalling the experience acquired by firefighters in recent years because of recurrent fires "in the south of France".
The small team "will be there tomorrow in Australia" and "will be able to determine with the Australian authorities how (...) to further strengthen the human resources" provided by France, he added. The government is prepared to send "nearly a hundred people in function" of the needs expressed by the local authorities.
"Solidarity of France"
The mission comes after an interview between Emmanuel Macron and Scott Morrison on Sunday, during which the French president told the Australian Prime Minister "of France's solidarity", according to Christophe Castaner.
Since September, Australia has been ravaged by fires that have killed 24 people and reduced to ashes nearly 80,000 km2 throughout the country, an area almost equivalent to the island of Ireland.
These fires have also been deadly for wildlife. According to a recent study, they have been responsible for the disappearance of almost half a million animals since September in the only state of New South Wales, the most affected by fires.
Overwhelming images of thirsty koalas drinking water from bottles held by firefighters or kangaroos totally panicked in the midst of the flames have been around the world.
A fire season more intense than ever
This crisis has focused on climate change responsible, according to scientists, for this fire season more intense, long and early than ever. Australia has not yet entered the period which usually corresponds to the high fire season.
The Australian government has been singled out, accused of failing to respond to this crisis and failing to take the necessary environmental measures.
Fires in Australia: "Lightning fell and the ground was so dry that everything burned"
No, Australian firefighters did not say the fires had "nothing to do" with global warming
- Christophe Castaner