Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - The Terra and Aqua satellites detected 138 hotspots indicating forest fires in eight districts of Riau Province on Saturday morning.

Haza shrouded Pekanbaru, Dumai, and Pelalawan, lowering visibility to four kilometers, Sanya Gautami, analyst of the Pekanbaru meteorology station, remarked here on Saturday.

Of the total hotspots, 67 were spotted in Indragiri Hilir District. Wildfires were reportedly raging across the sub-districts of Keritang, Gaung Anak Serka, Enok, and Batang Tuaka in Indragiri Hilir over this weekend, Gautami revealed.

A total of 23 hotspots were recorded in Pelalawan District, decreasing from over 60 hotspots early this week.

Four hotspots were found in Bengkalis District, nine in Rohan Hilir, 31 in Siak, one each in Kuansing and Kampar, and two in Dumai.

Of the total 138 hotspots in Riau, 93 hotspots were believed to be fire spots, with a confidence level at over 70 percent.

"Indragiri Hilir has 51 fire spots, while 25 in Siak, 10 in Pelalawan, six in Rohan Hilir, and one fire spot in Kampar," Gautami stated.

In addition to Riau, hotspots were detected in other provinces on Sumatra Island, including Jambi, with 41 hotspots; Lampung, 24; Riau Island, 13; South Sumatra, eight; and West Sumatra, 24.

Indonesia is currently experiencing a severe dry spell induced by the El Nino natural phenomenon that the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) forecasts will peak in August, thereby making it drier than that experienced in the previous year.

Until July 17, 2019, land and forest fires in the country had covered 42,740.42 hectares in 24 provinces.

Nearly 99 percent of the fires were triggered by intentional or accidental human activities, Agus Wibowo, spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), stated.

The Coordinating Ministry 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.

So far, only five provinces – Riau, West Kalimantan, South Sumatra, South Kalimantan, and Central Kalimantan – have declared an emergency status for forest fires.

Riau has declared an emergency status for land and forest fires from February 19 to October 31; West Kalimantan, from February 12 to December 31; South Sumatra, from March 8 to October 31; Central Kalimantan, from May 28 to August 26; and South Kalimantan, from June 1 to October 31, the ministry's deputy for social vulnerability and disaster impact, Dody Usodo, remarked in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Translator: Anggi Romadhoni, Fardah
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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