EU establishes firefighting fleet to cope with natural disasters

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To prepare for the risk of forest fires during the upcoming summer, the European Commission launched on Tuesday the first fleet of firefighting aircraft under the new rescEU system to tackle natural disasters.

So far seven firefighting airplanes and six helicopters will be part of the rescEU fleet during an initial transition period, and the European Commission is working together with the participating countries to add extra assets in the coming weeks, according to a press release of the European Commission on Tuesday.

President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "RescEU which offers practical solutions and puts European solidarity firmly into action, is a concrete response, a European response, to help our many citizens who face the threat of natural disasters."

Europe has witnessed severe natural and man-made disasters in recent years: forest fires, floods, storms and earthquakes resulted in loss of lives - more than 100 in 2018. To better protect citizens in need, rescEU reinforces the Union's collective ability to prevent, prepare and respond to disasters that affect our societies as of now.

"With rescEU, we have an extra 'safety net' at times of crisis. I am very proud to see our European forest fire fighting fleet becoming a reality this summer," said Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

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