Fatal accidents and haze mar Idul Fitri holiday return

Fatal accidents and haze mar Idul Fitri holiday return

26 September 2009

published by www.thejakartapost.com

Indonesia —

More people returning from their Idul Fitri holidays died in car accidents in various places across Java, while haze blanketing roads in Kalimantan and Sumatra worsened driving conditions.

As many as 77 people have died and 109 have been injured in traffic accidents in East Java as of the seventh day after Idul Fitri.

East Java Police operational division head, Sr. Comr. Abdul Madjid Tawil, said lack of discipline on the roads and human error were the cause of most deaths and injuries in accidents involving motorcycles, public buses and private cars.

“The number of casualties is likely to rise as returning traffic will peak on Sunday,” he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Madjid said the highest number of casualties in East Java had been recorded in Tuban regency, located along the main Pantura north coast highway, where 11 people had died and three were seriously injured in two collisions in Tuban – the first between a passenger car and a bus, killing seven people, and the second between motorcycles, claiming the lives of four people.

The National Police earlier said that at least 245 people had been killed in traffic accidents from Sept. 14 to Sept. 21 across the country.

Haze remains a threat for vacationers returning from their Idul Fitri holidays in cities in Kalimantan and Sumatra.

“We have to be more mindful of the haze because it can cause accidents,” said Djoko, a bus driver in Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, as quoted by state news agency Antara, on Friday.

Djoko said bus drivers plying the Palangkaraya-Pangkalan Bun route had complained about the haze, especially when driving at night.

The haze began to disappear in the middle of the Ramadan fasting month, but intensified again due to a lack of rain. The haze had returned to cover Pangkalan Bun from Sept. 20, Djoko added.

The Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) Manggala Agni Unit II in Pangkalan Bun has not yet been able to issue satellite images on the number of hotspots because of a shortage of staff during the Idul Fitri holidays.

“A number of employees are still on holidays,” said a Manggala Agni employee who asked not to be named.

He said that data from the NOA satellite showed 13 hotspots in various locations in Kobar regency, and that fires were believed to be spreading fast as a result of poor monitoring.

Haze had also engulfed Jambi city for the past three days, especially in the morning, said a local official.

Remus L. Tobing, head of the Jambi office of the Meteorology and Geophysical Agency (BMG), said the thick morning haze two days ago had disrupted flight activity.

“This morning, the density of the haze did not disrupt flights because visibility was at 2,000 meters, which is above the 1,800 meters minimum distance for landing,” said Tobing.

As of Friday noon, the density and altitude of the haze in Jambi city stood at 3,000 meters, much of which originated from South Sumatra. Tobing said winds moving from the southeast to the northwest had brought haze from Riau and Bengkulu, and especially from South Sumatra, to Jambi.

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