Australian authorities have confirmed that three US residents died after a firefighting aircraft crashed in southern New South Wales (NSW) on January 23. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that the Large Air Tanker (LAT) crashed in the Snowy Monaro area where it was operating to control the deadly bushfires.
Heartbreaking & devastating news that three US residents who were crew members operating a LAT in the Snowy Mountains region have lost their lives. Our thoughts & heartfelt condolences are with their families & the tight knit firefighting community. pic.twitter.com/fQ5gphfm6A— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) January 23, 2020
The NSW Rural Fire Service started investigating the incident after the LAT reportedly went missing around 1:30pm local time and a number of helicopters were deployed to carry out a search operation. Emergency responders found the wreckage after a brief search but the cause of the crash has not been established yet.
Meanwhile, the Australian government has decided to revoke the current compulsory Call Out of the Australian Defence Force Reserves with effect from February 7, 2020. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a statement, said that support is moving from assisting to save life and property, to relief and recovery operations as the immediate and wide-scale emergency threat has eased.
“It’s now time to allow ADF Reserve personnel who were part of the compulsory Call Out to return to their jobs, families, communities and personal commitments if they wish,” the Prime Minister said.
According to the Australian government, almost 6,500 full time and Reserve personnel have been providing direct support in the field, at sea, in the air, and from Defence bases as part of Operation Bushfire Assist
“The Australian Defence Force will continue to provide extensive support to the bushfire recovery, and dedicated elements of the full-time force will stand ready should an emergency response be required again this bushfire season,” Morrison added.