Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Indonesia forest fire affects over 75,000 people

The number of hot spot in Indonesia's forest fire scaled up in Riau province of Sumatra, the hardest hit area, on Monday, in part due to fresh acts of burning, as more than 75,000 people are affected, official said on Monday.

According to the satellite monitoring on Monday the number of hot spot Riau province, the center of Indonesia's palm oil plantation, the total hot spot increased to 189 on Monday from 116 on Friday, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of the national disaster management agency said.

"Hot spot in Riau witnesses increase. There are two causes, the first the fire flames again after being extinguished and the second is newly setting of fire," he told Xinhua by phone.

Riau province, home to the world's largest palm oil industry, has endured forest fires as people burned land for new plantation.

Forest fire from Indonesia has triggered haze enveloping Singapore and Malaysia, disturbing flight and impacting on people health.

However, in the whole of the country, the number of hot spot scaled down on Monday, Mr. Sutopo said.

According to the satellite monitoring, number of hot spot in Sumatra islands decreased to 399 on Monday from 471 on Friday, and in Borneo islands it was also down to 208 on Monday from 399 on Friday, he said.

The thick haze has caused 75,196 people suffering from respiratory, said Sutopo. Health ministry has revealed that some of the impacted people get pneumonia.

The spokesman said that the efforts to stop the fire through land with water bombing persist, involving around 12,000 soldiers, police and local officials of disaster management agency.

He said that according to the police report legal action has been taken against firms and individuals allegedly burn forest.

As many as 28 companies and 145 people have been declared suspects in the fire in Sumatra and Borneo islands, Mr. Sutopo disclosed.

The Indonesian government threats to lift business permit of companies burning forest during land clearing, put them on blak lists, and punish their top officials with criminal penalty, Security Chief Minister Luhut Panjaitan has said.

For the last decade, the government had awarded 4.8 million hectares of peat lands to investors for palm oil plantations, according to him.

Indonesia has been battered by such forest fires since the 1990s, as the ensuing haze enveloped neighboring ASEAN countries and caused losses of billions of U.S. dollars. 

  Xinhua - china.org.cn


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