Jakarta (ANTARA) - A drop in the number of hotspots in Sumatra and Kalimantan to 673 on Monday, 6 p.m. Western Indonesian Standard Time, reflected positively on the air quality in the islands’ several cities and villages.

Agus Wibowo, spokesman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), noted in a statement here on Tuesday that fewer hotspots were witnessed in Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, and Central Kalimantan.

Of the total hotspots, 141 were found in South Kalimantan, 63 each in Central Kalimantan and South Sumatra, and 15 in Jambi, he revealed. No hotspots were found in Riau and West Kalimantan.

Since early 2019, forest and peatland fires ravaged 328,724 hectares throughout Indonesia. Currently, wildfires continue to raze forest areas in Mount Merbabu and Mount Sumbing in Central Java Province.

Related news: Over 500,000 W Kalimantan residents suffer respiratory illnesses

The authorities have conducted Weather Modification Technology Operation (TMC) over Sumatra and Kalimantan by deploying two aircraft each to sow 9,600 kilograms of salt to induce rains.

The operation has yielded results, with rains being received in the districts of Indragiri Hulu, Dumai, Pelalawan, Kuansing, Indragiri Hilir, Siak, Rokan Hulu and Rokan Hilir in Riau; Merangin and Sarolangin in Jambi, Pontianak, Singkawang, Sintang, and Melawi in West Kalimantan; HST and HSS in South Kalimantan; and Palangkaraya, South Barito, and Lamandau in Central Kalimantan.

The rains also helped to dampen the peatland, deemed crucial to prevent forest fires, as otherwise dried peatland can induce wildfires easily.

In the meantime, 504 thousand residents of West Kalimantan, especially children, have ailed from respiratory illness owing to the forest fire-induced smog, Inspector General Didi Haryono, head of the West Kalimantan Police, stated.

Related news: Indonesian forest fire chokes millions of people, animals Furthermore, biodiversity and economic losses too occurred following cancellations of several international and domestic flights in parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan," he had remarked on Sept 29.

Indonesia suffered economic losses to the tune of Rp220 trillion owing to forest fires in six provinces, including West Kalimantan, he stated.

In West Kalimantan, which has a vast plantation area, irresponsible people cleared land by setting fire to make way for plantation.

The number of hotspots in West Kalimantan in August 2019 had reached 7,655. The figure increased to 15,767 on Sept 1-23, with Ketapang District recording the largest number, reaching 8,652.

On Sept 24-25, rains fell in West Kalimantan, lowering the number of hotspots to 34, he stated.


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Translator: Fardah Assegaf
Editor: Azizah Fitriyanti
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