A special fire-fighting team has been ordered to work round the clock to monitor forest fires at 74 hotspots in Indonesia’s Riau province in the island of Sumatra.
The forest fires, in oil palm plantations, are reported to have affected neighbouring Malaysia, causing the air quality in several states to deteriorate.
In Malaysia, 31 areas recorded a moderate Air Pollutant Index (API) reading at 5pm on Wednesday with one further area – Tanjung Malim, recording an unhealthy API reading of 110.
An API reading of 0 to 50 indicates good air quality; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy and 300 and above, hazardous.
On Tuesday, Malaysia’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the situation in Malaysia was influenced by transboundary haze due to land and forest fires in central Sumatra brought by the Southwest Monsoon winds.
Riau police chief Supriyanto was reported by local media as saying that the special team, consisting of firemen, police, the army and navy, had been able to control the fire at 50 hotspots and was working to control the fire at other hotspots.
These included Bengkalis, Kotamadya Dumai, Meranti Island, Pelalawan, Rokan Hulu and Siak.
He said various techniques, including water bombing, were used by the team to fight the fire.
According to reports on Tuesday from the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre based in Singapore, the number of hotspots in Indonesia had been increasing over the last few days.
Source: Channel News Asia