Palm oil firms burning Indonesian forests: Greenpeace

Annual Haze Disrupts Flights inIndonesia

15 July 2007

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Indonesia — Smoke from land-clearing fires disrupted flights servingIndonesia’s part of Borneo island as the country entered its annual dry season,a local official said Sunday.

The haze has covered the city of Pontianak in western Borneo over the pasttwo days, delaying flights Sunday morning because of reduced visibility, localairport chief Syamsul Bachrie said.

Haze from forest fires, frequently deliberately lit by Indonesian land andplantation owners to clear land cheaply, has become a regular problem for largeparts of Southeast Asia over the last 10 years.

“For safety reason, no flights were made this morning,” Bachriesaid, but added visibility had improved by midday and flights resumed over therest of the day.

He said, however based on past experience, the haze would likely continuedisrupting flights over at least the next couple of days.

Indonesia has predicted the haze will be much lighter this year because ofgreater efforts to combat the fires, which scientists say pump large amounts ofgreenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The annual smog has caused health problems and billions of dollars of lossesfrom falling tourism revenue and flight delays in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singaporeand Thailand since 1997, when it first began.

The country is the third-highest emitter of carbon dioxide worldwide, mostlydue to the fires, scientists say.


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