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Jakarta Post

Riau reopens haze command post

Rizal Harahap
Pekanbaru   ●   Thu, July 25, 2013

The Riau Haze Mitigation command post at Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase in Pekanbaru, Riau, was reopened on Wednesday in response to the recurrence of fires over the past several days.

"The command post was earlier moved to the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency [BPBD], but today it was reopened at the airbase to facilitate trans-sector coordination," Riau BPBD head Said Saqlul Amri told The Jakarta Post.

He acknowledged the main command post was reopened to anticipate the haze, which had sparked protests from neighboring countries like Singapore and Malayasia, from recurring.

"In August, forest fires in Riau are predicted to be more severe. According to the BMKG [Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency], August is the peak of the dry season, that's why efforts should be made to anticipate the problem," said Amri.

Four helicopters have been deployed to conduct water bombing operations in the north of Riau, where the majority of fires have been detected. The local military command has sent an additional 200 troops - assisted by 100 public order officers - to Rokan Hulu, Rokan Hilir, Siak, Bengkalis and Dumai city, which are the worst-hit by forest and peatland fires.

The number of fires in Riau has continued to fluctuate and has tended to increase in the past three days. On Monday, 173 hot spots were detected. They dwindled to 165 the next day, but again rose to 183 on Tuesday.

The majority of fires are in Rokan Hilir, with 48, followed by Pelalawan (22), Siak (19), Bangkalis (18) and Rokan Hulu (17). As of Wednesday, only Pekanbaru was free of the fires.

Roesmin Nujadin Airbase operational head Let. Col. Prasetya H said the four helicopters were focusing on water bombing operations in Pelalawan and Dumai.

"Today, they're focusing operations in Dumai on fires near the city. The air quality has also dropped to 308 PSI [Pollutants Standards Index]," he added.