Indonesia water-bombs forest fires to fight haze

2015-09-14 11:33
(Adek Berry, AFP)

(Adek Berry, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Jakarta - Helicopters on Monday water-bombed raging forest fires that have cloaked parts of Indonesia in thick haze and pushed air quality to unhealthy levels in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.

Fourteen helicopters were dumping water on blazes on western Sumatra island and the Indonesian part of Borneo island and "cloud-seeding", which involves using chemicals to induce rain, the country's disaster agency said.

Authorities had struggled last week to start such operations as the haze was so thick that it was too dangerous for aircraft to fly.

Smog-belching fires are an annual problem during the dry season in Indonesia, where vast tracts of land are cleared using illegal slash-and-burn methods to make way for huge palm oil and pulp and paper plantations.

Thousands ill

The blazes intensified in the past fortnight, sending smog over Sumatra and Borneo that has left tens of thousands ill, forced people to wear face masks and prompted the cancellation of flights and school closures.

Air quality has deteriorated in the city-state of Singapore and Malaysia in recent days, as wind carries the smog from Indonesia.

Smog continued to shroud Singapore on Monday, with air quality at unhealthy levels.

Two outdoor races scheduled for Sunday were cancelled, while organisers of the Formula One due to be held in the city-state reportedly said they are closely monitoring the haze in case it affects the event.

Haze levels have steadily been rising in Malaysia, with buildings more than a kilometre away in the capital Kuala Lumpur appearing as vague silhouettes. On Monday, 29 of the country's 52 air-quality monitoring stations tipped into the "unhealthy" range.

As of late Sunday, more than 1 100 "hotspots" - areas with high temperatures that are either already on fire or likely to soon go up in flames - were detected by satellites on Sumatra and the Indonesian part of Borneo, said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho.

"Even when blazes are successfully extinguished, people then start new fires," Nugroho said, adding that the police were investigating 26 companies and scores of people over the illegal blazes.

Pressure to stop the annual outbreaks of smog has increased since 2013 when Southeast Asia suffered its worst air pollution crisis for more than a decade, but joint attempts by countries in the region to find a solution have moved slowly.

Read more on:    indonesia  |  fires

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.