Oct 23, 2013

China provides satellite imagery to assist Australia in fighting against bushfire

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CANBERRA, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) — China has provided satellite imagery to Australia to assist the country’s fighting against the latest bushfires in New South Wales, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy said on Wednesday.

Adam Lewis, Group Leader of National Earth Observation of Geoscience Australia (GA), confirmed with Xinhua on Wednesday that in the past six days, GA has been getting two passes of satellite images from China every day. Those images are used to build up the mapping of the bushfires, which have been ravaging in New South Wales since last Thursday.

Under the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters, of which both China and Australia are signatories, participating countries will provide space satellite data to relief organizations in the event of major disasters for free at the request of the afflicted country.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang last Friday sent a message to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott over the unfolding bushfire crisis, expressing sincere sympathies to the Australian government and people over the mishap.

The premier pledged that China is willing to provide necessary assistance to Australia for disaster relief in accordance with the need of Australia.

The Chinese Embassy was then contacted by Australian officials for the provision of satellite imagery, which is vital to the monitoring and fighting against bushfires, the worst in New South Wales since the 1960s.

Lewis said when pictures are received, scientists in GA will use them to identify where a fire is at a particular time, therefore help to form a mapping and detection of the fires and also help with the analysis of the impact.

In the 2009 event of bushfires in Victoria, China began to provide satellite images to Australia.

“The 2009 response from China has led to a growing professional relationships between GA and agencies in China that do this remote sensing. So we built professional relationship as a consequence of that efforts,” Lewis said.

“The 2009 response certainly raised our awareness of China’s growing capability in providing satellite images in disastrous situations,” he added.

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