Indonesia’s Sumatra island blanketed in choking haze

Indonesia’s Sumatra island blanketed inchoking haze

Source: Terra Daily, October 13, 2004

Jakarta (AFP)

Choking haze from forest and ground fires blanketed the southern parts of theIndonesian island of Sumatra Wednesday, causing breathing problems among someresidents, a weather official said.

Visibility in Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra province, was at about1,000 meters (0.62 miles) on Wednesday morning, said meteorology official,Suyatim.

The haze forced Palembang residents to wear handkerchiefs while going out,the state Antara news agency reported.

“The smoke is quite bothersome because it causes eye irritation andshortness of breath especially during the afternoon and evening,” Antaraquoted a resident as saying.

Suyatim said worst-hit was the Ogan Komering Ilir district, some 80kilometers (49 miles) southwest of Palembang, where early morning visibility hadbeen a mere 20 meters on Monday.

He said a satellite image on Tuesday indicated there were 800 fires in theprovince, with people in the Ogan Komering Ilir area in particular burningvegetation to clear their land ahead of the planting season, a practice that hasbeen outlawed.

“As usual, the haze is caused by illegal land-clearing and peoplesetting fire to dried wild brushes,” Suyatim said.

Sumatra and Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo, are the areas usuallyhardest hit by the haze, an annual dry-season hazard in parts of Southeast Asia.


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