Indonesia to operate more water bombing aircraft

Palembang, S Sumatra (ANTARA News) - Indonesia will operate more foreign water bombing aircraft to put out land and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, a senior minister has said.

The aircraft will arrive soon to conduct fire fighting operations in an optimal manner, Coordinator Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said here on Tuesday after inspecting the state of the land and forest fires in Jambi province.

He admitted that fire fighting operations could not achieve maximum results as the area where land and forest fires, as also peatland fires, occurred was large.

In view of that, the country will operate more foreign water bombing aircraft, he said.

In general, the fire fighting operations have shown good results although haze still shrouded several areas, he said.

Fire fighters have tried their best to put out land and forest fires in South Sumatra and Jambi, but because of too many peatland fires, haze was still there, he said.

He confirmed President Joko Widodos plan to set up an office in an affected area, such as in South Sumatra. However, the location has not been decided.

It could be South Sumatra or Kalimantan. The President will have an office in one of the affected areas, and hoped that the haze issue could be resolved soon, he said.

Chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Board (BNPB) Willem R confirmed a plan to deploy more water bombing aircraft to put out the fire at the existing hotspots.

A company will hire the planes, he said without revealing the name of the company.(*)