LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales announced that a Russian-loaned Il-76 plane will be joining next week’s firefighting of forests in the Santa Cruz region.
The president stated in an official statement that the mobilization to fight the fires that have already reached about 800,000 hectares of Bosque Seco Chiquitano, a transitional ecosystem between the Amazon and Chaco, continues.
“In four or five days there will be a 50-liter Ilyushin Il-76 from Russia. It is a loan, we will pay only the operating costs,” said Morales in Concepcion, one of the cities near the fires.
Morales said the Ilyushin Il-76, the world’s second largest firefighting aircraft, will join the largest government-hired 75,000-liter Boeing 747 Supertanker.
More than 4,000 military personnel, firefighters, police, volunteers and technicians are participating in the mobilization, supported by 12 helicopters, including two from Peru and three from France, several aircraft and about 300 vehicles, including 45 tankers.
Morales thanked the international cooperation, which also includes donations of more than two million dollars and the participation of at least 300 people, including firefighters and specialists.
The severe forest fires in Bolivia have become the subject of debate among candidates for the general and presidential elections to be held on October 20, and in which Morales will seek his fourth consecutive term.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has decided to personally inspect fires that have been devastating the Bolivian Amazon region for weeks, according to a Sputnik correspondent.
Alongside a group of journalists from various media outlets, the Bolivian president flew over the fires.
The aircraft went to the Chiquitania region, where firefighters are fighting wildfires on the Bolivian side of the Amazon.
Forest fires in the Amazon region have been going on for about three weeks. Brazil and Bolivia are involved in firefighting, while neighboring countries have provided assistance to them.
According to satellite data provided by the National Institute for Space Research this year, the area of forest fires in the region increased by 82% compared to 2018.
Morales took a front line position against the fires.