Malaysia offers to help fight Aussie bush fires

A property in New South Wales was among the thousands burned by raging bushfires that have destroyed millions of hectares in Australia. (AP pic)

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has offered to help Australia tackle its national bushfire disaster, which has resulted in millions of hectares of land and millions of animals being destroyed.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said Malaysia was ready to extend necessary assistance, including the deployment of the Special Malaysia Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team from the national disaster management agency to help put out the fires and to support rescue operations.

“I am deeply saddened to learn about the massive bushfires that have caused the loss of lives and extensive damage in Australia,” she said in a statement today, and extended the government’s condolences to the victims, their families and all those affected.

The offer comes a day after the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia had praised “big-hearted Malaysians” for their expressions of support as his country continues to battle the bushfire.

“When you need a friend… turn to a Malaysian,” said Andrew Goledzinowski in a Twitter message yesterday.

Earlier today, the DAP’s adviser, Lim Kit Siang, urged the Malaysian government to offer a team of firefighters to help fight the bushfires. Lim said an offer of assistance to Australia would be in the spirit of good neighbourliness.

The bushfires have claimed 23 lives since September, 12 of those from this week’s fires alone. Dozens of people are also reported missing, while some 1,500 homes have already been lost.

Experts have said that climate change has been a major factor in a three-year drought that has left much of the country’s bushland tinder-dry and susceptible to fires.