Kota Batu, Jawa Timur (ANTARA) - A huge wildfire ravaged forest area on the slope of Mount Panderman in Kota Batu, East Java, on Sunday evening but the disaster did not harm anyone because all mountaineers had safely arrived at the mountain's observation post, according to local authorities.

Head of Kota Batu's Disaster Mitigation Agency's Emergency and Logistics Unit Achmad Choirur Rochim said here on Monday that the latest report of Mt Panderman's Observation Post authority had confirmed that wildfire did not harm the lives of climbers.

"According to the latest report released by Mount Panderman's Observation Post authority at 10 p.m. local time, none of climbers remains at the mountain's climbing tracks when the fire is engulfing the forest," Rochim said.

Two latest mountaineers who reached the observation post were Much. Adnan Fanani and Firgiawan Listanto. Both are residents of Mojokerto District, he said.

Rochim said the wildfire started burning the forest area of Mt Panderman's slope, located 2,045 meters above the sea level, at around 07:45 p.m. local time. After receiving report on the wildfire, a preparation for extinguishing the fire was made.

In the firefighting mission, the local disaster mitigation agency coordinated with representatives of a state-owned forestry firm (Perhutani), police, military, and rural forestry community institution (LMDH), he said.

The agency also sent all personnel who would get involved in the firefighting operation to Toyomerto Hamlet of Pesanggrahan Village, Batu Subsdistrict, on Sunday evening, where they discussed strategies to put out the wildfire, he said.

Indonesia is bracing for a devastating and protracted drought this year, according to the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency's (BMKG's) warning, with the condition likely to peak in August and September.

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Those residing in the affected areas should maintain vigil to deal with the impact of the drought.

It has not merely led to a scarcity of clean water and a deterioration in the air quality but it has also triggered a potential recurrence of bush and forest fires in certain provinces.

In Banyumas, Central Java Province, for instance, the district's Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) confirmed Friday that some 3,150 families in 12 villages are reeling from a clean water crisis.

In dealing with this scarcity, the BPBD has prepared one thousand water tanks and regularly distributed clean water supplies to meet the requirement of some 10,876 people.

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Translator: Vicky F, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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