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Jakarta Post

Sumatra hot spots on the increase, warnings of haze

Apriadi Gunawan
Medan   ●   Tue, February 11, 2014

The latest satellite observation reveals that the number of hot spots in Sumatra has risen significantly from the previous 62 to 297 hot spots around the island, an official says. He added that the largest number was detected in North Sumatra province, with 142 spots.

'€œOur Terra and Aqua satellites have detected 297 hot spots around Sumatra, a significant increase on yesterday'€™s number, which was only 62 spots,'€ analyst at the Riau office of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), Bibin Sulianto, said on Tuesday as quoted by Antara newswire.

These hot spots usually originate from land-clearing activities done by farmers or plantation companies. The land is cleared by slash-and-burn prior to farming or plantation. Most Sumatra provinces have entered the first phase of the dry season by now, which will last until March.

BMKG also raised concerns about haze. According to BMKG, the visibility at Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport was only 500 meters on Tuesday morning, described as critical, far below the minimum requirement of at least 1,500 meters.

'€œThe haze combined with fog is the main cause,'€ Bibin said.

He said the BMKG would join forces with other related institutions like the Health Agency, Environmental Agency, the police and Forestry Agency to minimize the damage.(dic)