Pekanbaru`s airport shut down due to thick haze

Pekanbaru`s airport shut down due to thick haze

Smoke from forest fire covered Pekanbaru space in Riau Province, Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Land and forest fires' smoke in Riau have disturb the health of residents and flight activity at Pekanbaru airport. (ANTARA PHOTO / FB Anggoro)

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - Sultan Syarif Kasim (SSK) II Airport in Pekanbaru was shut down temporarily, from 8 to 9 am local time, due to thick smog haze coming from forest fires.

"The visibility was 2,000 meters at 5 am. But it decreased to 1,500 meters at 6 am," Ibnu Hasan, the airport`s duty manager, said here on Thursday.

He said at 7 am the visibility worsened as it dropped to 1,000 meters. At 8 the management was forced to stop all flights as the visibility reduced further to 800 meters.

"Several flights from airlines such as Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air and Air Asia were diverted to other airports near Riau. Garuda and Lion diverted their planes to Medan Airport and Air Asia to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia," he said.

According to him, the airport closure was the first time being occurred in SSK II.

"The airport was opened again at 9 am after the air condition became normal," he said.

Thick smoke has covered several places near Riau as forest fires has hit the province since the past week. The fires have disturbed several public activities.

The forest fires and its cross-border haze triggered some protests from neighboring countries - Malaysia and Singapore.

However, Indonesian Foreign Affairs Ministry Marty Natalegawa said the haze problem should be handled collectively by all of parties, instead of blaming each other.

"Fires and haze have occurred in several countries not only in Indonesia. In the past, the United States and Australia also faced similar problems like in our country," he said.

He called for cooperation among countries and peoples to help put out the fires.

According to the Indonesian Environmental Forum (WALHI)`s data, land and forest fires in Riau had regularly occurred since 1997. Many perpetrators cleared forest area for industrial plantations.