"The visibility has dropped drastically, from 1,500 meters at 7 a.m. local time to 700 meters at 9 a.m. local time owing to the haze," Bibin Sulianto, analyst at the Pekanbaru meteorology station, stated here on Thursday.
The smog arose from forest fires in the southern part of Riau Province, such as the districts of Pelalawan and Indragiri Hulu.
The air pollution over Pekanbaru worsened since haze also emanated from neighboring provinces, such as Jambi and South Sumatra.
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Related news: Satellites detect 1,211 fire hotspots throughout Sumatra
The Terra and Aqua satellites on Thursday morning detected 437 hotspots in South Sumatra and 420 hotspots in Jambi, as well as 279 hotspots in Riau Province. A total of 50 hotspots were found in Bangka Belitung, 77 in Lampung, 20 in North Sumatra, nine in Bengkulu, and four in Aceh and Riau Islands.
In Riau Province, the hotspots in Indragiri Hilir reached 141, while 50 were found Pelalawan, 31 in Rokan Hilir, 14 in Kuansing, 26 in Indragiri Hulu, six in Bengkalis, and one in Siak.
Of the total 279 hotspots in Riau, 177 were confirmed to be fire spots, comprising 99 hotspots in Indragiri Hilir and 33 in Pelalawan.
In the meantime, Head of East Kotawarinigin District, West Kalimantan, Dr Faisal Novendra Cahyanto remarked in Sampit on Thursday that the air quality in Sampit was deemed hazardous, with the air pollution index reaching 384.11 micrograms per cubic meter.
Based on data as of August 2019, a total of 3,625 cases of respiratory ailments were particularly found in Mentawa Baru Ketapang and Baamang. Some 100 hotspots were detected daily in the district.
In Riau Islands Province, the Tanjungpinang meteorology station reported that visibility in Bintan had reduced to five kilometers, from seven kilometers earlier, owing to haze arising from forest fires on Kalimantan Island.
Indonesia has been bearing witness to the extreme dry season that had triggered a water crisis and forest fires in several provinces. The severe dry spell is triggered by the El Nino natural phenomenon.
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