Thick haze blankets parts of Mindanao in the Philippines

MANILA - Three cities in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao have been blanketed by thick haze believed to have come from raging forest fires in Indonesia's Kalimantan region.

Weather forecaster Gerry Pedrico told The Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday (Oct 19) that the haze had been observed hanging over the cities of Davao, Cagayan de Oro and General Santos since Saturday (Oct 17).

He said wind patterns created by the slow-moving typhoon Koppu, which had been pummelling northern Philippines since Sunday (Oct 18), could have caused the haze to drift towards southern Philippines from Indonesia.

Early this month, metropolitan Cebu in central Philippines was enveloped in a bluish-grey "unusually thick" haze for over a week.

Scientists said a tropical storm created a pathway that carried the haze from Kalimantan 1,000km away not only to Cebu, but also to parts of Mindanao.

The haze was thickest in Cebu because of a pocket of air created by the storm and local pollution, they added.

Mr Pedrico said the haze over the three Mindanao cities did not pose health risks.

"The smoke is actually up in the sky, and there will be no health risks. There is no reason to be alarmed," he said.