Smog leaves 30,000 ill in Indonesia’s Sumatra island

Smog leaves 30,000 ill in Indonesia’s Sumatra island

04 March 2014

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Indonesia — SMOG from forest and brush fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra island has triggered respiratory problems in more than 30,000 people, an official says.

Haze pollution reached hazardous levels in parts of Riau province, including the capital Pekanbaru, with visibility at 200 metres, said National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Nugroho today.

“Cases of respiratory infections and other illnesses such as pneumonia, asthma and eye and skin irritation are increasing,” he said.

Satellite images showed more than 330 “hot-spots” indicating fires in Riau on Monday but plans to use aircraft to drop water on Monday were cancelled because of low visibility due to the thick smog, Nugroho said.

Police in Riau said they had arrested 28 people suspected of starting some of the fires in recent days.

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

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