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Jakarta Post

Peatland fires rage across dozens of hectares in Riau

  • Rizal Harahap

    The Jakarta Post

Pekanbaru, Riau   /   Fri, October 14, 2016   /  04:11 pm
Peatland fires rage across dozens of hectares in Riau Haze rises from burning peatland in Rangsang Timur district, Meranti Islands regency, Riau, on Friday. (Courtesy of Emergency Task Force for Forest Fire/Riau)

Dozens of hectares of peatland in the Rangsang Timur district of Meranti Islands regency, Riau, are on fire despite the recent onset of the rainy season.

Meranti Islands Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) head Edy Afrizal said the fires had been raging for four days and did not only burn the bushes but also damaged rubber and coconut plantations belonging to local farmers. “We estimate the burned area is about 50 hectares,” he said Friday.

Edy could not confirm the cause of the disaster but said the police had begun an investigation.

“This repeated fire on peatland is very unfortunate, because we have dispersed enough information that everyone here knows setting fire to land is a crime punishable by jail,” he said.

He added that a joint team of personnel from his office, the Indonesian Military and the National Police as well as locals was trying to extinguish the fires, but they were facing difficulties due to the lack of water and a strong wind blowing from the west, helping the fire spread.

“Haze is emitting from the burning land,” he said. (evi)

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