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Jakarta Post

Bengkalis calls for firefighting assistance

  • Rizal Harahap

    The Jakarta Post

Pekanbaru   /   Wed, June 19, 2013   /  05:19 pm
 Bengkalis calls for firefighting assistance Cloudy days: An uncontrollable fire in Riau has left its capital, Pekanbaru, and several other regencies and municipalities in the province, blanketed in smoke clouds, on Wednesday. The thick smoke has forced education authorities in Bengkalis and Dumai to give students vacation to prevent the spread of acute respiratory infections. (JP/Rizal Harahap) (JP/Rizal Harahap)

Cloudy days. An uncontrollable fire in Riau has left its capital, Pekanbaru, and several other regencies and municipalities in the province, blanketed in smoke clouds, on Wednesday. The thick smoke has forced education authorities in Bengkalis and Dumai to give students vacation to prevent the spread of acute respiratory infections. (JP/Rizal Harahap) 

 

Overwhelmed with peatland fires in three villages in Bukit Batu district, Bengkalis regency, Riau, the local administration is calling upon the central government to immediately dispatch assistance to help it tackle the disaster.

Bengkalis deputy regent Suayatno said the fires, which burned hectares of rubber and palm oil plantations and bushes in Sepahat, Tanjung Leban and Bukit Kerikil villages, had been raging since March 1.

'€œFire fighting teams have tried to extinguish the fires for three months, but the fires in Bukit Batu district this week are much more terrifying than before,'€ Suayatno told journalists on Tuesday.

'€œFrankly speaking, Bengkalis can no longer bear the situation. This is beyond our capacity,'€ he added.

Suayatno said a concentrated effort was needed to deal with the fires because if there was no rain in the three days ahead, the fires would spread. The cloud of smoke would also continue to worsen, triggering protests from neighboring countries, he went on.

According to Suayatno, the administration'€™s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) and Bengkalis fire fighting agency had dispatched all personnel to extinguish the fires.

'€œEven personnel from the Public Order Agency [Satpol PP], the police, the Society Concerned about Fires (MPA) and extinguishing teams from several private companies have been involved in the operation, but the fires continue to spread due to strong wind and very dry weather,'€ said Suayatno.

He said inadequate equipment and difficulties in obtaining water sources had slowed efforts.

'€œThe fires and smoke clouds can be categorized as a national disaster. We urge the National Disaster Mitigation Agency [BNPB] to immediately send assistance,'€ Suayatno said. (ebf)

 

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