Helicopters deployed to combat forest fire in NE India

India has pressed helicopters and additional teams of disaster response forces to douse the massive forest fire that has engulfed the picturesque Dzuko Valley located in northeastern India.

Officials say the fire dousing operation currently underway started earlier this week. The valley, known for its seasonal flowers, flora, and fauna, is located on the borders of India's Nagaland and Manipur states.

On Saturday morning, a spokesman of the Indian Defense Ministry said the air force since Friday has deployed helicopters in the fire-fighting mission at the Dzukou Valley near Nagaland, a spokesman said on Twitter.

Manipur Chief Minister Nongthombam Biren Singh said the Indian National Disaster Response Force has deployed additional personnel at the site.

“The @NDRFHQ has now deployed 60 personnel at the wildfire site at Dzuko valley. Also 2 helicopters equipped with Bambi bucket have been deployed to fight the wildfire,” Singh tweeted.

Earlier this week, Singh said a wildfire started at the Dzuko Valley probably from the Nagaland side and crossed over to Manipur.

John Sha, a senior forest officer in Manipur Forest Department told Anadolu Agency that according to reports three mountain ranges have already burnt. “We don’t know the exact details of the damage caused due to the fire, because the area is very vast and has steep slopes ... the assessment is still being done,” he said. “The valley is very famous and tourists regularly visit it.”

He added that they are hopeful to control the fire by Sunday evening, and that many "teams have arrived at the site including the air force choppers. It [fire] should come under control by Sunday evening.”

"The fire started on Dec. 29 evening," Johnny Raungmei, the officer on special duty of the Nagaland State Disaster Management Authority, told Anadolu Agency.

He added: "This is a natural valley with different types of flowers.

"How much [forest] cover is damaged due to fire, we are still assessing it. We are even using the drones for the same [purpose]."/aa