Right now, 33 flights comprising 17 departures and 16 arrivals, have been cancelled because of the weather,
Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - As many as 33 flights to and from Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in the Riau provincial capital of Pekanbaru were cancelled Monday due to low visibility. "Right now, 33 flights comprising 17 departures and 16 arrivals, have been cancelled because of the weather," a spokesman for the airport, Benni Netra said.

The thick haze shrouded Pekanbaru Monday morning, causing the visibility to drop to 500 meters. The visibility was getting better on Monday after rains fell at the airport at 6.00 p.m. local time.

"Alhamdulillah (thank God) it rained at the Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport and the haze disappeared soon," he said.

Not all flights were cancelled and several aircraft eventually landed, Executive General Manager of Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport Yogi Prasetyo said.

Lion Air flight JT124 which was earlier diverted to Minangkabau Airport in Padang, West Sumatra, continued its flight to Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport Monday afternoon.

"Only one flight was diverted today. That was JT124 from Kuala Namu Airport (in North Sumatra) which was diverted to Padang. It has returned to Pekanbaru," he said.

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The haze in Riau has been deteriorating over the past three days. On Monday morning, thick smoke enveloped Pekanbaru.

The deteriorating air quality has left some citizens with no choice but 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, had stated at the Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport last Friday.

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The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) station in Pekanbaru had spotted 1,591 hotspots indicative of forest fires across Sumatra Island at 6 a.m. local time Monday.

South Sumatra recorded the highest number of hotspots, reaching 675, followed by 505 in Jambi and 256 in Riau.

Riau Governor Syamsuar has declared a state of emergency in the province.

"Starting today, we impose a state of emergency over the air pollution in Riau Province," he stated Monday morning.

The emergency will be in force from September 23 to October 31, and if the condition remains unchanged, it will be extended, he revealed. (INE)

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Translator: FB Anggoro/Suharto
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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