Thick haze hits Sumatra, but Singapore gets respite

An Indonesian soldier sprays water on a burning peatland in Kampar, in Indonesia's Riau province on Sept 11, 2015.
An Indonesian soldier sprays water on a burning peatland in Kampar, in Indonesia's Riau province on Sept 11, 2015. PHOTO: REUTERS

Singapore got a respite from the haze yesterday, as wind directions changed, but tens of thousands of Indonesians in Sumatra and Kalimantan continued to face hazardous levels of air pollution caused by raging forest fires.

The air pollutant index in Riau and other provinces affected by thick haze - which also include Jambi, Central Kalimantan and South Kalimantan - was mostly between unhealthy and hazardous levels yesterday. A reading above 300 is considered hazardous.

Thick haze also blanketed the Malaysian capital yesterday.

Meanwhile, Indonesia has accepted an offer from Singapore to help combat the raging forest fires, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday.

Tens of thousands of Indonesians have been treated for respiratory illnesses caused by smoke from hundreds of forest and land fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, with dry weather set to last for several more days, the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) said yesterday. Across many areas, schools have been shut and flights delayed.

Nearly 15,000 residents in Riau province in Sumatra, near Singapore, suffer from upper respiratory infections. Also affected are 22,855 residents in South Sumatra and about 40,000 in South Kalimantan, said a BNPB statement yesterday.

Nearly all five provinces in Kalimantan were shrouded in smoke, said BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. Kalimantan had 1,312 hot spots, of which 508 were in the worst-affected West Kalimantan province, as of 5am Jakarta time yesterday, satellite imagery showed.

Kalimantan is suffering its worst haze this year, in terms of the area shrouded in haze. Sumatra listed 575 hot spots, of which 78 per cent were in South Sumatra province.

SEE TOP OF THE NEWS

Wind change helps keep haze away

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2015, with the headline 'Thick haze hits Sumatra, but Singapore gets respite'. Print Edition | Subscribe