Sumatra haze emergency declared

Sumatra haze emergency declared

26 February 2014

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Indonesia — Indonesia’s Riau province has declared a state of an emergency as thick smog from forest and brush fires blanketed much of Sumatra island, officials said.

With seven of 12 districts in Riau badly affected by the smog, the province is asking the central government for help, said Said Saqlul Amri, the head of the local disaster management agency.

“We don’t have the resources to do it ourselves,” he said.

More than 22,000 residents in Riau have suffered respiratory problems because of the pollution, governor Annas Maamun said, according to the state news agency Antara.

“It’s still the responsibility of the local government,” said Sutopo Nugoroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency in Jakarta.

“We’re looking into what we can do to help,” he said.

Smoke from forest fires on Sumatra is an annual dry season hazard that often affects neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

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