INDONESIA – Thousands of Muslim worshipers in Pekanbaru, Riau, performed Idul Adha prayers in the yard of Annur Mosque on Sunday while blanketed by thick haze resulting from the forest fires raging in the province.
As reported by Antara news agency, the worshipers came from various regions around Pekanbaru. Some brought face masks with them, while mosque caretakers also provided some to the congregation, particularly for the children present.
Riau Governor Syamsuar and Deputy Governor Edy Nasution also prayed at the mosque.
According to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the level of haze on Sunday morning reduced visibility.
“The visibility in Pekanbaru this morning is quite bad, only 2 kilometers because of the smoke,” BMKG Pekanbaru station analyst Sanya Gautami said on Sunday, as quoted by Antara.
Sanya said the air was polluted by the smoke or haze and that the concentration of PM10 pollutant in the air at around 6:30 a.m. local time had reached 110 micrograms per cubic meter.
She added that according to satellite monitoring, there were eight hot spots in Riau with strong early indications of forest fires.
“They are all located in Indragiri Hulu regency,” she said.
Environment and Forestry Ministry data show that wildfires burned 42,640 hectares of land across the country between January and May this year, which was nearly double the 23,745 ha burned in the corresponding period last year.
The thick haze is reminiscent of the haze crisis in 2015 that impacted Riau and Malaysia. (kmt)