The number has increased from 35 in the morning
Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - The Terra and Aqua satellites have detected 53 hotspots indicating forest fires in Riau Province Saturday afternoon, a surge from 35 hotspots in the morning on the same day. "The number has increased from 35 in the morning," Bibin, analyst of the Pekanbaru meteorology station, said here Saturday.

Of the 53, 27 were found in Pelalawan, seven in Bengkalis, six in Siak, five in Inhil, two in Inhu, and respectively one on Meranti Island, in Rohil, Kampar, Kuansing and Rohul.

Twenty-five hotspots comprising 20 in Pelalawan, two in Bengkalis and one each in Kuansing, Rohul and Inhu, were most likely the result of forest fires, Bibin said.

The Riau Provincial Administration has declared an emergency status of forest fires from February 19, 2019 to October 31, 2019.

The current extreme dry spell has triggered forest and bush fires in Riau, whose peatland is prone to wildlife.

Joint teams comprising local fire brigade officers, rangers, military and police officers, have been working hard to extinguish forest fires in Riau by land and air.

Wildfires have devastated a total of 27,683.47ha in Riau per July 2019, according to data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB). In Indonesia, a total of 42,740.42ha areas were destroyed by forest, bush and peatland fires.

Riau has a total of 2,960 hotspots so far this year, or the largest number compared to other provinces.

In the meantime, the office of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs has appealed to 11 provincial administrations prone to land and forest fires to impose an emergency alert status in their respective regions.

"Regions must soon declare an emergency alert status, because of the total 16 provinces (prone to forest fires), only five have imposed the status," the ministry's Deputy for Public Order and Security Coordination Insp. Gen Carlo B. Tewu remarked during a coordination meeting to evaluate and take precautionary measures against land and forest fires held in Jakarta July 18, 2019.

The meeting was attended by representatives from 16 provinces prone to land and forest fires, officials of the Environment and Forestry Ministry, Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), and Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG).

President Joko Widodo had instructed regions to prevent land and forest fires at the earliest, Tewu noted.

So far, only the five provinces of Riau, West Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and West Kalimantan have declared an emergency alert status. Riau has experience in tackling forest fires, he stated.
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Translator: FB Anggoro, Fardah
Editor: Suharto
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