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Netanyahu thanks Russia for help in fighting blaze

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed on Friday his gratitude to Russia for its assistance in fighting large-scale wildfires in northern Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed on Friday his gratitude to Russia for its assistance in fighting large-scale wildfires in northern Israel.

Blazes broke out near the northwestern port of Haifa, home to 250,000 people, on Thursday, killing at least 40 and forcing some 15,000 to leave their homes.

Later Netanyahu admitted that the country was not ready to fight the fires, the worst since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, and asked Russia, as well as Greece, Cyprus, Spain and other countries used to tackling large-scale wildfires, to provide assistance.

Russia has sent firefighting aircraft to Israel. A Mi-26 heavy-lift helicopter, an Il-76 Ilyushin plane and a Be-200 amphibious plane took off from Moscow. They are expected to start work by late Friday.

"The prime minister emphasized that the Russian experience in tackling wildfires is very valuable and said that the aircraft which Russia sent to Israel are the largest of their class...They will make a hefty contribution to the fight with the fires in the most complicated sites," Netanyahu's administration said.

"Russia has seen large-scale wildfires more often than any other country in the world and has the necessary experience [in putting out fires]," the statement also said.

A record-breaking heat wave gripped Central Russia for much of the summer, sparking large-scale wildfires across the country and causing the worst drought in more than a century. The fires killed several dozen people and left over 3,500 homeless.

TEL AVIV, December 3 (RIA Novosti)

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