Palembang, S Sumatra (ANTARA News) - The joint Indonesian-foreign team kept the focus on extinguishing land and forest fires in Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) district, South Sumatra Province.

"The joint task force focused on tackling land and forest fires through the air. Ogan Ilir had become the biggest source of haze, compared to other districts in Indonesia," the task forces deputy chief, Yulizar Dinoto, said here on Wednesday.

According to him, any fire occurring in peatlands region should be handled specifically and properly.

To maximize the burnout in peatlands, the joint team conducted a water bombing operation.

"Based on the directions of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Luhut Pandjaitan, efforts to put out the fires through water bombing were undertaken because the land was precariously located," he said.

He pointed out that the team will mobilize all personnel and equipment support, as well as assistance from several foreign countries such as Malaysia and Singapore.

"Five helicopters and two planes have been deployed to combat the fires. In addition, the government made efforts to induce artificial rain in the region," he said.

Earlier, to overcome the smog disaster, the local government deployed 4,997 personnel from the Provincial Agency for Disaster Management (BPBD), Manggala Agni, and Indonesian Armed/Police Forces, since September 2015.

They were part of a task force which was assigned the role of reducing land and forest fires in South Sumatra.

"In the last two months, the task force had extinguished fires in 1,259 hotspots and conducted 6,826 water bombing operations," South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin stated.

In addition, his officials will deploy additional equipment to put out land and forest fires.

This is part of the anticipatory measures undertaken to face the next dry season, so that smog problem can be minimized, or even overcome.

"The next steps will include adding more than 40 water pumps and normalizing the flow of water in peatlands or areas prone to land and forest fires," the governor explained.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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