Singapore, Wary of El Nino Factor, Offers Aid to Indonesia in Fighting Forest Fires

Singapore, Wary of El Nino Factor, Offers Aid to Indonesia in Fighting Forest Fires

11 June 2014

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Indonesia/Singapore — Singapore has offered to provide assistance to Indonesia and Malaysia to fight possible land and forest fires and to prevent the ensuing haze that may spread across borders ahead of the potential of a drier weather brought on by El Nino this year.

Singapore’s assistance this year is the same as what has been offered in previous years, Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.

That package includes: one C-130 aircraft for cloud-seeding operations; as many as two C-130 aircraft to ferry fire-fighting assistance teams from Singapore Civil Defense Force (SCDF); a team from the SCDF to provide assessment and planning assistance fire-fighting efforts; and high-resolution satellite pictures and hot spot coordinates.

Singapore said its worst haze episode was last year when the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit a record high of 246 on June 20, and that far exceeded the levels in 1997 (138) and 2006 (128).

“Given that there is a possibility of the El Nino weather phenomenon affecting our region this year, smoke haze pollution in the region could reach worse levels this year if fires are not promptly stemmed at source,” the environment ministry said in its statement.

Willem Rampangilei, Indonesia’s deputy for the environment at the coordinating ministry for people’s welfare, was quoted as saying by the Straits Times and reported by Reuters that Indonesia appreciated the offer, but the government would deploy its national capabilities first. “We do not reject the offer,” he told the Straits Times.

Singapore also says it has also offered assistance to the Malaysian government to help combat land and forest fires should such a need arise.

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