Indonesia has accepted Singapore's offer to help fight forest fires in Sumatra

A worker takes a break from extinguishing fire at a burning forest at the Pulo Geronggang village in Ogan Komering Ilir district in Indonesia South Sumatra province on Sept 11, 2015.
A worker takes a break from extinguishing fire at a burning forest at the Pulo Geronggang village in Ogan Komering Ilir district in Indonesia South Sumatra province on Sept 11, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS
Workers bring water pipes to extinguish fire as they walk through a burnt palm oil plantation at the Pulo Geronggang village in Ogan Komering Ilir district in Indonesia's South Sumatra province on Sept 11, 2015.
Workers bring water pipes to extinguish fire as they walk through a burnt palm oil plantation at the Pulo Geronggang village in Ogan Komering Ilir district in Indonesia's South Sumatra province on Sept 11, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Indonesia has accepted Singapore's offer of help to combat the ongoing forest fires causing the haze, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Friday.

Speaking at a Toa Payoh polling station, Dr Ng said that on Cooling-off Day on Thursday, he had called his counterpart in Indonesia, who accepted the offer.

The Singapore government has offered haze assistance packages to Indonesia since 2005 during the traditional dry season from June to October. These include a C-130 aircraft for cloud seeding, up to two C-130s to ferry a fire-fighting assistance team from Singapore there and a Chinook helicopter with a water bucket for aerial fire-fighting.

Dr Ng said: "Thankfully the winds shifted this morning and the haze has come down. But we have to find some way of bringing down the problem, and I'm glad the Indonesian authorities are looking at it."

At 5am on Friday, the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI), an air quality measure, hit between 158 and 182 - its highest level since the new PSI was launched in April last year, and the closest it has been to reaching the very unhealthy range (201-300).

Air quality has improved throughout the day. At 9pm, the 24-hour PSI was between 120 and 137.