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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 10, 1997


Southeast Asia Fires - U.S. Assistance

The United States will provide immediate emergency assistance to the countries most seriously affected by the ongoing fires in Southeast Asia - Indonesia and Malaysia. The fires have caused unprecedented levels of air pollution, which have been aggravated by low rainfall and unusual weather patterns associated with El Nino.

The assistance package for Indonesia and Malaysia will consist of humanitarian relief, fire-fighting equipment, air quality monitoring, analysis of the health effects of the smoke and air pollution, and satellite weather forecasting information. This effort will employ the expertise of nine U.S. government agencies, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fire Service and the Center for Disease Control.

The United States also is reviewing other forms of cooperation with other affected countries in the region, including Brunei, Singapore, the Philippines, and Thailand.

I would refer you to the Department of State and the Department of Defense for further details.