Haze alert in Riau

Haze alert in Riau

24 January 2009

published by www.straitstimes.com

Indonesia — Indonesia’s Riau province has declared a state of alert over thickening smog haze created by the annual burning of rainforests, the Antara news agency reported.

Fire burning through a forested area in Indonesia’s Riau province. The fire spread out of control after villagers burned vegetation to clear land for a plantation. — PHOTO: REUTERS’The province is on alert for forest and plantation fires,’ Mr Fadrizal Labay, the head of the province’s environmental body, said on Friday.

Riau Governor Rusli Zainal has ordered every regent and mayor to coordinate with provincial bodies to anticipate any further impact of the haze.

Data recorded by Singapore’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite on Thursday showed 142 fire spots across the province.

The Riau Natural Resources Conservation Body reported that fires had destroyed 1,450ha of forest and plantation in the province in the past week.

Haze coming from forest fires covered Pekanbaru, Riau’s provincial capital. It reduced visibility, forcing car drivers and motorcyclists to reduce their speed on the roads.

The Pekanbaru meteorological and geophysics agency reported that the haze was not disrupting flights at Pekanbaru’s Sultan Syarif Kasim Airport II.

The Riau provincial forestry office has sent three firefighter teams, each consisting of 45 personnel, and seven forest policemen, to extinguish and investigate the cause of the fire in the Bengkali, Dumai and Rohan Hilir districts.

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