Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - Students and teachers in Pekanbaru, Riau Province, were left with no choice but to wear face masks as haze, arising from forest and bush fires, hung over the city since early this week.

"Since Monday, schools have appealed to students to wear face marks, as children are susceptible to smoke emitted from forest fires," Afni Sarianti, a teacher of the Islam Akramunnas Kindergarten, noted here on Wednesday.

The students were explained about the health hazard posed by exposure to haze.

"Before entering classrooms and before leaving for home, we remind the children of the dangers of haze smoke," she noted.

Sarianti is optimistic that the government would act promptly in dealing with forest and bush fires to prevent recurrence of the forest fire disaster that had taken place in 2015 and forced schools to temporarily close for about a month due to the thick haze covering the city.

An official of the Pekanbaru meteorology station noted that the haze affecting Pekanbaru arose from forest fires in Pelalawan District, located in the south of Pekanbaru.

"Satellite monitoring shows that Pekanbaru and Pelalawan are being shrouded by haze," Yasir Prayuna, an analyst of the Pekanbatu Meteorology Station, remarked.

The number of hotspots in Riau Province has decreased to 10 on Wednesday morning, from 60 on Tuesday.

Four hotspots were detected in Pelalawan; one each in Kampar, Rokan Hilir, and Indragiri Hulu; and three in Indragiri Hilir.

As the air quality deteriorated in Pekanbaru, the Riau Health Office has handed out face masks free of charge to the local residents.

"We have a stock of 10 thousand face masks, and we distribute them for free," Yohanes, a local health official, stated.

In the meantime, some 5,929 personnel, comprising military, police, and civilian officers, were deployed to extinguish forest fires in the five provinces of Riau, South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan.

The personnel were part of the Land Task Force for forest fire emergency and supported by the Air Task Force as well as firefighters from private companies, such APP Sinar Mas, which has deployed 3,180 men. Related news: Riau's land, forest fires covered 3,147 hectares in Jan-June 2019

Translator: FB Anggoro, Fardah
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
Copyright © ANTARA 2019