The Jakarta Post
Haze has worsened in the neighboring provinces of Riau and Jambi on Sumatra Island during the last few days, forcing local authorities to send students home.
In Riau, visibility continued to decrease.
Based on observations conducted by the Pekanbaru office of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), visibility in the provincial capital on Tuesday morning was only 500 meters.
In Rengat and Dumai, visibility was 2 and 3 kilometers respectively.
'The haze has also negatively impacted the air quality in various regions in Riau. It is currently at moderate to unhealthy levels, or between 100 and 199 PSI,' head of the office's data and analysis section, Slamet Riyadi, said on Tuesday.
He said the haze that is presently covering various regions in Riau came from provinces in southern Sumatra due to the wind that blew from the southeast to the west and the north throughout Riau.
Among the provinces blamed for having sent the haze to Riau were Jambi and South Sumatra, where 33 and 38 hot spots respectively were detected on Tuesday morning.
Slamet said that the Terra and Aqua satellites on Tuesday morning also detected six hot spots in Aceh, two in Lampung and one in Bengkulu.
'In total there were 85 hot spots detected across southern Sumatra,' he said, adding that the same satellites detected only four hot spots in Riau on Tuesday morning, one each in Indragiri Hulu, Indragiri Hilir, Kampar and Pekanbaru.
Thick haze forced two flights to hold for a while before landing at Pekanbaru Sultan Syarif Kasim II International airport. The airplanes were forced to wait in order for visibility to improve.
'Both the planes could finally land safely as the visibility increased to 1,000 meters,' the airport's officer in charge Hasnan Siregar said, adding that the haze so far had not disturbed departure schedules.
Meanwhile in Jambi, haze forced the authorities in East and West Tanjungjabung regencies to send students home from Monday for an indeterminable time.
'The haze endangers the students' health, and that is why we sent them home,' West Tanjungjabung Regent Usman Ermulan said on Tuesday, adding that the policy applied only up to junior high school students.
He said his administration also distributed free masks to people to help lessen the negative health effects of the haze.
'We will also ask the health agency a check on the haze content in the air to make sure of its security level,' he said.
Haze due to land fires also still covered the Mendahara Ulu district and East Tanjungjabung regency. Firefighters were still trying to extinguish the fire as of today.
'We decided to temporarily send students in the region home because we consider the haze dangerous,' head of East Tanjungjabung Education Agency's elementary education division, P. Sidabutar, said.
He said the policy, which was applied only to pre-schools pupils and first and second graders, was made in anticipation of new problems that might emerge because of the thickening haze in Mendahara Ulu.
He said he could not yet determine when learning activities would return to normal.
He even said that if the haze worsened, there was a possibility that all the schools in the region would be temporarily shut down.
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