The Jakarta Post
Terra and Aqua satellites detected 154 hotspots in areas across Riau province on Sunday, indicating forest and land fires had increased again following a decline in rainfall.
'The number of hotspots in Sumatra has reached 195, 154 of which are located in Riau,' Agus Wibowo, head of the data and information division at the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), said as quoted by Antara in Pekanbaru, on Sunday.
He said the satellite observation results were obtained from the latest Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency's (BMKG) report sent at 5 a.m. local time on Sunday.
The number of detected hotspots in today's report was far higher than what had been reported one day prior, which had reached only 75 spots.
Agus said the hotspots were scattered in six regencies and municipalities, most of which were in northern Riau coastal areas. He said authorities should pay close attention to the situation because haze from the fires could potentially spread to Malaysia and Singapore, as the wind might blow from the south to areas in and around the Malacca Strait.
One hundred-and- thirty- one hotspots were detected in Rokan Hilir, making it the regency with the highest number of hotspots, followed by Bengkalis regency (13), Rokan Hulu regency (6), Pelalawan regency (2) and Dumai city and Kuantan Singingi regency with one hotspot each.
With data accuracy of more than 70 percent, Agus said, 98 hotspots were strongly indicated as fire hotspots.
'It is predicted that potential for fires is still high because rainfall is expected to be low in Riau. Chances of low-intensity rains, which are local in nature, during evening and early in the morning are predicted to occur in small parts of eastern and southern Riau,' said Agus.
Meanwhile, Sultan Syarif Kasim II Pekanbaru airport duty manager Ibnu Hasan said smoke had yet to disturb visibility, which had reached 5 kilometers at 7 a.m. local time on Sunday.
'It is still relatively safe,' he said.
However, the BMKG had detected a mixture of smoke from fires and haze in four areas, namely Dumai, Pekanbaru, Pelalawan and Rengat.
The Riau administration has yet to change the smoke disaster alert status in the province, even though the potential for land and forest fires in the area is still high and due to the impact of El NiÃ±o.
The Riau Haze Emergency Task Force has continued its efforts to tackle the fires by deploying fire fighters, three water bombing helicopters and by carrying out weather modification to produce artificial rain. (ebf)
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