"If the water content is 75 percent we will scatter salt from an aircraft to induce rain"
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government is planning several measures to address land and forest fires in several parts of the country, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto said Friday. "The first step is to strengthen the Manggala Agni fire brigade," he said after attending a ministerial special meeting on controlling forest and land fires in Jakarta.

With that in mind, the number of fire brigade personnel equipped with fire extinguishers will be increased, he said.

The government will also prepare cloud seeding operations to induce rain.

Based on the coordination with the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), cloud seeding can be conducted only if the clouds have a minimum water content of 75 percent

Related news: Haze impairs visibility to 700 meters in Pekanbaru

"If the water content is 75 percent we will scatter salt from an aircraft to induce rain," he said.

To facilitate the handling of land and forest fires, the National Defense Forces (TNI) chief has also readied two aircraft to scatter salt over critical areas, he said.

"The TNI chief has provided additional planes to BNPB (the National Disaster Mitigation Agency) and the aircraft are on standby in the affected areas," he said.

To handle land and forest fires in difficult terrain the government will keep in readiness a total of 42 helicopters to conduct water bombing operations, he said.

The fires have affected air quality in several areas in the country.

In the Riau provincial capital of Pekanbaru, pollution has reached a hazardous level, compelling some citizens to evacuate to other cities along with their families.

"We decided to evacuate to Jakarta, as we cannot stand the haze (in Pekanbaru)," Sylviawati, a 27-year-old resident, stated at the Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru, Friday.

The air quality in Pekanbaru and some regions in Riau has reached a hazardous level due to thick smog emanating from the forest fires. Until 3 p.m. local time Friday, the smog continued to envelop Pekanbaru.

On Friday morning, visibility in the city had dropped to only 300 meters.

The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) station in Pekanbaru had spotted 1,319 hotspots indicative of forest fires across Sumatra Island at 6 a.m. local time Friday.

South Sumatra recorded the highest number of hotspots, reaching 537, followed by 440 in Jambi, and 239 in Riau. (INE)


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Translator: Muhammad Zulfikar/Suharto
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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