Haze: Indonesian ships on evacuation alert

Indonesian labourers unload goods from ships berthed at Sunda Kelapa port in Jakarta on Aug 18, 2015.
Indonesian labourers unload goods from ships berthed at Sunda Kelapa port in Jakarta on Aug 18, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

Indonesia has put a fleet of vessels from the navy and state-owned shipping firm PT Pelayaran Nasional Indonesia on high alert off Sumatra and Kalimantan, for a possible evacuation of babies and children due to the high levels of air pollution.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said it will be the country's last resort if the two regions are rendered unliveable by the thick smoke from forest fires.

The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) in various areas there has been hovering within the "hazardous" zone for most of this week.

In Singapore, hazy conditions are likely to persist today. The National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday that the 24-hour PSI for the next 24 hours is likely to be in the mid to high sections of the unhealthy range.

It may even enter the low end of the very unhealthy range if denser haze is blown in.

Visibility is also likely to be reduced, with the prevailing winds forecast to blow from the east or south-east, said the NEA.

As of 9pm yesterday, the 24-hour PSI was 136-158, in the unhealthy range, while the three- hour PSI was 239.

Ferry services between Batam Centre and Singapore were suspended briefly yesterday afternoon. Singapore River One, the organiser of this weekend's Singapore River Festival, said it will be postponed if the three-hour PSI level is above 300.

CAROLYN KHEW

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2015, with the headline 'Haze: Indonesian ships on evacuation alert'. Print Edition | Subscribe