Operations at airport in Pekanbaru affected by haze, visibility down to 100m

A boy in Pekanbaru tries to douse a fire with a bucket.
A boy in Pekanbaru tries to douse a fire with a bucket. PHOTO: AL GHIFARI

PEKANBARU (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Sutan Syarif Kasim II Airport in the Riau provincial capital of Pekanbaru was paralysed on Saturday (Sept 12) as a smoky haze became thicker, reducing visibility to only 100m.

"No planes could fly," said airport duty manager Hasnan, adding that the airport runway was covered by the pollution. He said that 32 flights were delayed on Friday.

Tempo.co reported that since Friday, the thick smoke from forest fires had covered Pekanbaru.

The Pekanbaru station of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) reported that satellites detected 883 hot spots in the Sumatra forests, indicating the spread of forest fires. It was far worse than the situation a day before when there were only 665 hot spots.

In the Riau forests, there were only 15 hot spots.

The air quality was declining in many parts of the province, while the visibility in other Riau regencies was no different: 100m in Rengat regency, 100m in Pelawan and 500m in Dumai.

Meanwhile, firefighters were still trying to extinguish the forest fires from the air. For example, helicopters carried out water bombing in the Kayuagung forest, Ogan Komering Ilir, South Sumatra. Residents saw a number of helicopters taking water from the Kemering River for their operations, tribunnews.com reported.