A team of emergency operators from the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) departed to the smog affected areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan on Thursday to help tackle the country's worst haze to date.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla, upon deploying the 630 personnel, reported Antara news agency, said, "Local PMI officers have worked really hard but after given the worsening situation, the PMI [Jakarta] must help them expand the operation."
The haze from forest and peatland fires has been blanketing parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan for the past three months.
Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa said on Wednesday that at least 19 people had died from the toxic smoke and 500,000 people had been severely affected.
Kalla added that the PMI was working at close to its national potential with the support of PMI officials from Central Java and East Java already in action.
"Hopefully this task can be carried out well until the rainy season comes," Kalla said.
PMI has also arranged a three-month emergency operation in Sumatra from November to January.
The operation, released on Thursday, will send out 10 water-tank vehicles, two water filters, 10 ambulances, 100,000 N95 masks, 150,000 evo masks, air filters and eye drops.
The PMI's regional office will send similar equipment to Kalimantan.
The organization received support from partners including the International Red Cross Federation, Red Crescent, US Red Cross and the Australian Red Cross.
The PMI has already distributed 700,000 masks for haze victims in Sumatra and Kalimantan. (rin)