The Jakarta Post
Rain poured down on Palembang, South Sumatra, on Sunday afternoon, clearing the view in a city that had been blanketed by smoke from forest fires for the past few days.
“We are expecting medium to heavy rain,” said Bambang Benny Setiaji, an official from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency’s (BMKG) local office.
The haze had covered the city since last week, nearly obscuring Ampera Bridge on Friday morning as visibility narrowed to less than 2 kilometers.
BMKG Palembang spokesperson Nandang Pangariwibowo said visibility in the city that day was between 1 and 2 km, with air quality categorized as unhealthy.
“We call on the people to put on masks in such conditions, even though the haze appears from night to morning,” Nandang said.
According to the head of the South Sumatra Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BPBD South Sumatra) emergency mitigation division, Ansori, the number of hot spots has been increasing for the last three days as a result of drying water sources.
Authorities have discovered hot spots in four regencies outside Palembang, namely Ogan Ilir, Ogan Komering Ilir, Banyuasin and Musi Banyuasin.
In Ogan Ilir, haze reduced visibility on the Palembang-Inderalaya toll road, hampering intercity road transportation.
“This is accumulated haze carried away by the wind to Palembang,” Ansori said.
He added that fires in the three regencies could be found across 77,000 hectares of land, with the greatest number of hot spots found in Ogan Komering Ilir.