Kalimantan, Indonesia — Rains and strong winds have helped to thin haze from ground and forest fires which has blanketed the sky over several cities and towns in the Indonesian part of Kalimantan island, officials said Thursday.
In Pontianak, the capital of Indonesia’s West Kalimantan province, rains fell late on Wednesday, helping to thin thick haze the following day, said Maroni from the local meteorology office.
“Visibility at around 7:00 this morning (2300 GMT Wednesday) was at around 1,000 meters and it is now at around 1,200 meters,” AFP reported citing Maroni.
“The rains has only thinned the haze and we can still see and smell the smoke,” he added.
In Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan province, strong winds from the northeast pushed the haze towards the sea, improving visibility to around seven kilometers.
But Sudariansyah, from the Banjarmasin meteorology station, said that haze was still very much visible, giving the sky a greyish hue.
In Palangkaraya, the capital of Central Kalimantan province, visibility at daybreak was about one kilometer and later rose to two kilometers, said Hidayat from the local meteorology station.
“We have had moderate winds of between five and six knots from the south andsoutheast,” Hidayat said.
Burning in Indonesia and some parts of Malaysia to clear land for crops causes an annual haze that smothers parts of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand as well as Indonesia.
Indonesia’s neighbours have urged Jakarta to prevent burning, warning that it hurts business and deters tourists.
The Indonesian government has outlawed land clearing by fire but weak enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.