Switzerland sends helicopters, personnel to Italy for wildfire extinguishing
Three of the Swiss Armed Forces' Super Puma helicopters joined the firefighting efforts Monday afternoon, and at the same time, a humanitarian team travelled to Bergamo, where it became part of the operations centre run by Italy's civil protection authorities, the Swiss Federal Government said in a statement.
A series of wildfires has spread throughout northern Italy over the past week, destroying many hectares of forests. Hundreds of inhabitants in the Lombardy and Piedmont regions have had to be evacuated from their homes.
According to the statement, the combination of dryness and intense winds is making the firefighters task all the more difficult.
"Switzerland has responded positively to Italy's request for aerial reinforcements. This morning, the Federal Council gave the go-ahead for the deployment of three Super Puma helicopters," the statement said.
The Swiss government said that a detachment from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit has landed at Bergamo airport, where the Italian civil protection authorities have set up their crisis management centre.
The team, made up of two members of the Swiss Armed Forces with forest-firefighting expertise, will ensure coordination with the local authorities and facilitate the deployment of the Swiss helicopters. ■