Riau, Sumatra — The haze covering Pekan Baru, the capital of Riau inSumatera Island, is reported to have worsened up till Friday evening, limitingvisibility to around 50 to 80 metres only.
Apart from drivers who had to switch on their car headlights when driving indaytime, at least five flights were postponed at the Sultan Syarief KassimAirport Friday when visibility dropped to 30 metres.
The MetroTV reported that the authorities in Riau had handed out face masks toits residents to lessen the health hazards, particularly to respirations, due tothe haze.
The haze, which enveloped Pekan Baru since last week, was said to be the resultof forest and peat soil burning, a traditional method still used by some farmersto clear new lands to plant crops.
At least 60 hot spots were detected as a result of forest fires, according tothe TV station.
Indonesian Forestry Ministry’s Forests and Nature Protection Director-General,Arman Mallolongan, was quoted as saying that the local fire brigade hadpositioned itself in 10 provinces which were fire-prone, including NorthSumatera, South Sumatera, Jambi, Riau, the whole of Kalimantan and SouthSulawesi.
The haze also covered several towns in West Sumatera, including its capitalPadang, for the past two days due to forest and peat soil fires.
According to the Padang Geophysics and Meteorological Department, there wereabout 57 hot spots in Sumatera base on the satellite monitoring.
The haze, which covered several provinces in Sumatera Island, usually would becarried by wind to Malaysia, its nearest neighbour across the Straits of Malacca.