Haze reaches Cebu in central Philippines

A bureau official said Cebu residents had been reporting what appeared to be haze in some parts of the city since the start of the week, till Sept 19, 2019.
A bureau official said Cebu residents had been reporting what appeared to be haze in some parts of the city since the start of the week, till Sept 19, 2019.PHOTO: JIM JEFE/TWITTER

MANILA - Haze from raging forest fires in Indonesia has reached Cebu City in central Philippines.

"Metro Cebu is currently experiencing hazy weather conditions, caused by forest fires in Indonesia and enhanced by the (south-west monsoon)," the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) said in an advisory it posted on Wednesday (Sept 18).

A bureau official said Cebu residents had been reporting what appeared to be haze in some parts of the city since the start of the week, till Thursday.

Cebu, home to more than four million people, is over 2,700km from southern Sumatra, where there are more than 100 hot spots.

Air quality in the city is now "above safe levels", with the main air pollutant - tiny particulate matter known as PM2.5 - at 56 micrograms per normal cubic m. A reading above 50 is considered unsafe.

The reading is not as bad as in 2015, when Cebu and large parts of Mindanao island were blanketed by haze.

At the time, airlines were forced to cancel flights to Cebu and Mindanao. Pilots flying to Cebu reported seeing only 8km ahead because of the haze.

At least nine airports then grounded planes without instruments that will allow pilots to land and take off in low to near-zero visibility.

Still, environment officials on Wednesday issued a slew of safety precautions.

 
 

Cebu residents were instructed to stay indoors, and wear N95 masks when they have to go outdoors.

Those with respiratory illnesses were advised to avoid low-lying areas where pollutants are likely to settle.

Drivers on the road were told to be extra cautious and use their headlights in places with poor visibility.