The Jakarta Post
The NOAA satellite detected 225 hotspots across Sumatra on Thursday, up significantly from 176 hotspots a day earlier, according to data from Riau's Disaster Mitigation Agency received by Antara news agency on Friday.
The hotspots were found in the provinces of Riau, North Sumatra, Jambi and South Sumatra, the data showed.
Most hotspots are allegedly the result of forest fires caused by deliberate slash-and-burn activities by local people to make way for new plantation areas.
Forest fires in Riau frequently cause thick haze to blanket the province and its neighboring areas, including Singapore and Malaysia.
Forest and land fires occurring in Riau between February and April 2014 caused economic losses worth more than Rp 20 trillion, according to data released by the National Disaster Mitigation Board (BNPB).
"It should be kept in mind that once a forest fire breaks out, it will be difficult to extinguish and can cause huge losses," BNPB chief Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
The largest loss caused by forest and land fires in Indonesia was in 1997, when fires wiped out millions of hectares of forest and plantation areas with losses estimated at US$2.45 billion. (hhr)
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