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Jakarta Post

Rain puts out land, forest fires in Riau

  • Rizal Harahap and Suherdjoko

    The Jakarta Post

Pekanbaru/Semarang   /   Wed, July 15, 2015   /  08:31 am

Rain that flushed down on most parts of Riau on Monday has finally managed to extinguish land and forest fires that had overwhelmed residents in the province over the past few weeks.

According to data gathered from the Meteorology, Geophysics and Climatology Agency (BMKG) in Pekanbaru from the Terra and Aqua satellites, the number of hotspots in the province had significantly dropped from 200 to only two on Tuesday morning.

'€œBased on our analysis, none of the hotspots can be categorized as fire spots. It is unlikely that they would cause another land and forest fire,'€ BMKG Pekanbaru analyst Sanya Gautami told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday, adding that the two hotspots had been found in Pelalawan regency.

Riau authorities have been struggling to put out massive land and forest fires that emerged over the past few weeks due to this year'€™s prolonged dry season.

On Monday, hundreds of local government officials in Pekanbaru, the province'€™s capital city, for example, performed istisqa (prayers to ask for rain) in an effort to deal with the matter.

Sanya said that rain that fell for several hours on Monday in most parts of Riau had helped to douse land and forest fires in the province, which is also known as the country'€™s largest oil producer.

'€œBased on information derived from our observation posts, rain with light to medium intensity has fallen in Pekanbaru, Rengat, Pelalawan, Meranti Islands, Tembilahan and Batang Cenaku,'€ she said.

By Tuesday, Riau no longer recorded the most number of hotspots in Sumatra.

'€œBangka Belitung province currently has the most number of hotspots with six,'€ Sanya said.

The dry season normally occurs between April and September. The BMKG, however, recently warned that the dry season could last longer this year as a result of the El Niño weather phenomenon, the effect of which will last until November.

Separately, Central Java Water Resources Management Agency reported on Tuesday that five out of 39 reservoirs in the province had recently dried up due to the prolonged dry season.

Agency head Prasetyo Budhi Yuwono said that farmers in several regions, including Pati and Demak, had recently asked the regional administration to help provide water supplies for their crops.

'€œThe dried dams are regarded as small, while the province'€™s eight major dams, including Kedungombo, Gajahmungkur and Wadas Lintang, are still holding an adequate amount of water to irrigate nearby farmland,'€ he said.

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