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Colombia turns drug-fumigation planes into fire fighters

Colombia turns drug-fumigation planes into fire fighters

Thursday, February 15, 2024, 12:20 GMT+7
Colombia turns drug-fumigation planes into fire fighters
An AT-802 Air Tractor aircraft donated by the United States to the Colombian Police flies over during a demonstration to the press, at the Police Aviation School in Mariquita, Colombia February 14, 2024. Photo: Reuters

BOGOTA -- Colombia on Wednesday added eight aircraft, some previously used to fumigate drug crops, to its fire-fighting fleet as it braces for more dry El Nino weather that has stoked major wildfires.

President Gustavo Petro declared a natural disaster in January as fires ravaged areas of the world's second-most bio-diverse country.

UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters donated by the United States to the Colombian Police fly over with the Bambi Bucket system to extinguish fires during a demonstration to the press, at the Police Aviation School in Mariquita, Colombia February 14, 2024. Photo: Reuters

UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters donated by the United States to the Colombian Police fly over with the Bambi Bucket system to extinguish fires during a demonstration to the press, at the Police Aviation School in Mariquita, Colombia February 14, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Petro attended an event in Tolima province displaying the four AT-802 Air Tractor planes and four Black Hawk UH-60 helicopters, originally donated by top ally the United States, that were refitted to drop water and chemicals to quell flames.

An AT-802 Air Tractor aircraft donated by the United States to the Colombian Police drops water during a demonstration to the press, at the Police Aviation School in Mariquita, Colombia February 14, 2024. Photo: Reuters

An AT-802 Air Tractor aircraft donated by the United States to the Colombian Police drops water during a demonstration to the press, at the Police Aviation School in Mariquita, Colombia February 14, 2024. Photo: Reuters

The planes were used to spray the herbicide glyphosate on illegal plantations of coca, the chief ingredient in cocaine, until 2015 when the flights were stopped due to health concerns related to the chemical.

An AT-802 Air Tractor aircraft donated by the United States to the Colombian Police flies over during a demonstration to the press, at the Police Aviation School in Mariquita, Colombia February 14, 2024. Photo: Reuters

An AT-802 Air Tractor aircraft donated by the United States to the Colombian Police flies over during a demonstration to the press, at the Police Aviation School in Mariquita, Colombia February 14, 2024. Photo: Reuters

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter donated by the United States to the Police to extinguish fires is seen during a demonstration to the press, at the Police Aviation School in Mariquita, Colombia February 14, 2024. Photo: Reuters

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter donated by the United States to the Police to extinguish fires is seen during a demonstration to the press, at the Police Aviation School in Mariquita, Colombia February 14, 2024. Photo: Reuters

Reuters

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