Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics (BMKG) Station in Pekanbaru, Riau Province, confirmed the presence of 584 hotspots on Sumatra Island suggestive of forest fires on Saturday morning.

Of the total, 272 hotspots were detected in Riau, over twice the 112 hotspots found on Friday afternoon, Nia Fadhila, the Pekanbaru BMKG station's analyst, stated here on Saturday.

A total of 128 hotspots were found in Jambi Province, 99 in South Sumatra, 41 in Bangka Belitung, 18 in Lampung, 11 each in West Sumatra and Riau Islands, and four in Bengkulu.

Some 102 hotspots covered Pelalawan District in Riau, 90 in Indragiri Hilir, 35 in Bengkalis, 17 in Indragiri Hulu, nine each in Meranti Islands and Siak, seven in Rokan Hilir, two in Kuansing, and one in Kampar.

Furthermore, 192 of the total 272 hotspots in Riau were believed to be fire spots, with 76 in Pelalawan, 60 in Indragiri Hulu, and 29 in Bengkalis.

Fadhila pointed out that haze had blanketed Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau Province, on Saturday morning, as the wind blew from southeast to southwest.

The air quality in Pekanbaru was almost bad, with visibility lowered to 1.5 km owing to smog arising from forest fires. Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto had earlier admitted to dismal law enforcement against the perpetrators of the slash and burn method triggering forest and land fires. He noted that the government will adopt a different approach to put a halt to traditional farming practices using fires.

Wiranto stated that the sanction imposed on individuals setting fires had proven ineffectual in thwarting the practice.

The minister confirmed that a stern warning had been issued to 37 corporations to stop slash and burn practices to clear land, while legal proceedings against five other companies were yet underway.

Wiranto noted that the number of hotspots this year had surpassed those of the previous years.

"The largest percentage of forest fires was caused by human activities, such as the slash and burn method, for clearing land," he stated.

Translator: FB Anggoro, Fardah
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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