The Jakarta Post
The Riau administration has instructed 12 regents and mayors across the province to immediately overcome the land and forest fires as well as anticipate the worsening haze over the past few days.
'Regents and mayors have been asked to be quick and ready and optimize the role of district and village heads to monitor, supervise and prevent the fires as early as possible as well as to overcome the haze in their respective areas,' said the provincial administration first assistant Ahmadsyah Harrofie on Wednesday.
According to him, Governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman has also called the regional heads to ask for opinions from relevant agencies as well as guidance and existing regulations when determining the emergency status in their regions.
'An alert status must be determined through a coordinated meeting,' he added.
As of Wednesday, thick haze from land and forest fires was still blanketing a number of areas, such as Pekanbaru and Pelalawan regency, which led to limited visibility to reach only between 1.5 km and 2 km.
'Air quality is also categorized as unhealthy,' said Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG) head Sugarin.
Based on satellite images gathered by the Pekanbaru BMKG on Wednesday morning, 40 hot spots were detected in seven regencies, 20 of them in Pelalawan, five in Indragiri Hulu, five in Indragiri Hilir, three each in Dumai city and Bengkalis and Siak regencies and one in Rokan Hilir.
Based on a recap conducted by the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) and relevant agencies, areas affected by fires in Riau from June 24 to July 26 had reached 1,264.75 hectares, of which 400 ha were found in Rokan Hilir, followed by Pelalawan (232 ha) and Bengkalis (177 ha). So far, only Meranti Islands regency has been reported free of fires.
'Of the affected areas, 1,125.25 ha have been extinguished,' said Riau BPBD head Edwar Sanger.
According to Edwar, the land and aerial task forces who were deployed from the land and Forest Fire Emergency Command Station at the Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase in Pekanbaru, are still making efforts to put out the fires.
'CN-295 planes have carried out 25 sorties to scatter 55.28 tons of salt to make artificial rain and a Sikorsky and a MI-171 helicopter have continued to conduct water bombing,' he said.
Separately, in North Sumatra, a number of incoming and outgoing flights at the FL Tobing Airport in Pinangsori district, Central Tapanuli regency, have been delayed due to haze from land and forest fires in Riau.
Airport manager Ambar Suryoko said on Wednesday visibility around the airport was only 2,000 meters at noon, thus endangering flights. Consequently, Ambar added, a number of flights were postponed until visibility improved.
Kualanamu BMKG data and Information Section head Mega Sirait said nearly all regions in North Sumatra, including Medan city, were covered by haze on Wednesday. She added the haze originated from land and forest fires in Riau.
Mega said in general, the haze from Riau had yet to disrupt people's activities in the province, apart from the FL Tobing Airport and Aek Godang Airport in Padang Sidempuan city. Mega said flights at both airports were disrupted by the thick haze as they were located close to the North Sumatra-Riau border.
'Visibility at FL Tobing and Aek Godang airports were 2,000 and 4,000 meters respectively,' said Mega, adding visibility at the Kualanamu International Airport in Deli Serdang regency was very good at 8,000 meters and did not interrupt flights there.
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