Samarinda, East Kalimantan (ANTARA) - Thick smog coming from forest fires shrouded Tanah Grogot in Paser District, East Kalimantan Province, reducing visibility to 10 meters on Sunday.

In Tapis area, the visibility drastically dropped to only five meters, which is dangerous for driving.

People driving in the haze-affected areas must turn on their vehicles' lights and adjusted the speed to the condition, Adjunct Commissioner Donny Romansa, head of the Paser Police's traffic unit, said here on Sunday.

"Due to the poor visibility, we urge drivers to turn on the lights," he said.

Related news: Lion Air JT 626 fails to land at North Kalimantan due to thick smoke

Related news: Smog from forest fires could kill indirectly: BNPB

The Paser authorities have declared a haze emergency status and urge local inhabitants to wear face masks particularly when they are doing outdoor activities.

The local education office on September 12, 2019, issued a notice asking students and teachers to always wear face masks .

A joint team comprising government, military and police personnel, has been fighting against forest fires in the district.

In the meantime, the Social Affairs Ministry has prepared safe houses or shelters, especially for children and elderly, whose cities or villages, including in Riau, East Kalimantan, and West Kalimantan provinces, were engulfed by haze emanating from forest fires. "We have prepared safe houses in regions being hit by forest fires," Harry Hikmat, the ministry's director general for protection and social security, stated here on Saturday.

The safe house program is being implemented in cooperation with the Health Ministry, Public Works and Public Housing Ministry, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI), Indonesian Police (Polri), and local authorities.

The safe houses are equipped with air purifiers for fresh oxygen and folding beds. The houses are tightly sealed to prevent smog from permeating and are run by capable personnel comprising psychologists and paramedics, among others.

The ministry has set up two safe houses in Aceh, four in North Sumatra, two in Riau Province, one each in East Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan, four in West Kalimantan, three in South Kalimantan, five in South Sulawesi, and one in North Kalimanta, among others.

Based on monitoring data of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), 1,231 hotspots were detected on Sumatra Island, 1,865 on Indonesia's Kalimantan Island, 412 on the Malaysian Peninsula, and 216 in Serawak and Sabah, Malaysia, on Sept 14, 2019.

Related news: At least 2,510 hotspots observed in ASEAN on Sept 4-7

Related news: Environment Ministry seals 42 company lands to fight forest fires

Translator: Arumanto, Fardah
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
Copyright © ANTARA 2019