Singapore: Singapore expects some haze fromregional dry spell
21 February 2002
SINGAPORE – Singapore said this week it could encounter some haze from forest fires in neighbouring countries in the coming months. “There have been land and forest fires in parts of the region,” the Ministry of Environment and Meteorological Services Singapore said in a joint statement. The statement said the region was experiencing a prolonged period of dry weather. Malaysian authorities said this week a dry spell had left more than 15,000 hectares of land scorched by forest and peat fires in the country over the past weeks, prompting a government ban on open burning. Over the past few days Singapore said it had identified several hot spots on Indonesia’s Sumatra island and had provided Indonesian authorities with satellite pictures. However, pollution readings in Singapore have so far remained healthy despite its proximity to Sumatra and Malaysia. Singapore skies are expected to stay clear in the next two weeks, the statement said. But changing winds could bring some smoke in the subsequent two months. “During this period, Singapore could experience slight to moderate smoke haze on a few days, should the hotspot activities in the region continue or become more widespread,” it said. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said on Monday the odds of an El Nino weather event occurring in the tropical Pacific region were double the normal level of risk this year, which could bring more dry weather to the region in the coming three months. Malaysia hopes heavy rain forecasts for March will help douse some of the fires. Haze has been a regional concern since Indonesia drew harsh criticism from its neighbours in 1997 when smoke from fires lit by slash-and-burn farmers blanketed large parts of Southeast Asia, hurting tourism and prompting health concerns.