Russia sends fire helicopter to Serbia

An Mi-8 firefighting helicopter owned by the Russian Emergency Control Ministry (EMERCOM) has flown from Moscow, Russia, for deployment in Nis, Serbia, the service has announced. The move followed a request made by the Serbian government, said EMERCOM, as the risk of fire in the country has increased due to hot weather.

The helicopter, with a crew from the Zhukovsky Air Rescue Centre, are on round-the-clock duty at an airfield in Nis. The Mi-8 will respond to large fires in Serbia and the Balkans, said EMERCOM. The helicopter boasts water dropping equipment along with a rescue hoist.

EMERCOM noted that the Russian and Serbian governments signed an agreement to create a Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Centre in April 2012: “It is designated to ensure faster response to emergency situations happening in Serbia and other countries of the region, namely by search and rescue operations, humanitarian operations and fire suppression as one of the most important tasks ensuring protection of people and territories.”

The helicopter’s crew have a wealth of experience, said the Ministry. For example, the captain, 1st-class pilot Vladimir Seryshev, has taken part in many humanitarian and rescue operations, such as suppression of wildfires in the Nizhny Novgorod and Kirov Regions, battled a large fire in ammunition depots in the Saratov Region, and searched for missing persons including tourists, said the service.

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