Up to 93 hotspots detected in Riau

Up to 93 hotspots detected in Riau

Photo document of fire in Riau forest. (ANTARA/Fachrozi Amri)

The largest number of forest fires has been detected in Bengkalis."
Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The Terra and Aqua satellite has detected 93 hotspots, or areas of intense heat indicative of forest fires, in the Riau province, Ardhitama of the Pekanbaru Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said here on Saturday.

"The largest number of forest fires has been detected in Bengkalis," he added.

In the Bengkalis district, 52 hotspots were detected in the plantation, forest and farming areas, he elaborated.

The Pelalawan district has 18 hostpots, while Siak has 16. Indragiri Hilir has four hotspots, Duma has three, while Rokan Hilir has one hotspot.

Of the 12 districts in Riau, only one district is forecast to receive rain, notably in the Kuantan Singingi district. The weather is expected to be sunny in the remaining districts.

There is a possibility that the number of hotspots will increase because of a lack of rain.

A number of cities in Riau have been covered by haze caused by the fiery hotspots.

Some of the fires have been set deliberately by irresponsible plantation companies hoping to clear the land for plantations or farming activities. That is against the existing laws in Indonesia.

The fastest and cheapest way to clear new land for planting crops is by burning the land.

Haze arising from land-clearing fires often degrades the air quality, trigger health problems for some people and reduces visibility in affected areas, in particular, parts of Sumatra and the Kalimantan Islands.

Last year, the Indonesian government declared a state of emergency in the Riau province on June 21, after heavy smog blanketed parts of Sumatra island, Singapore and Malaysia.

Several flights were postponed or cancelled and the Sultan Syarif Kasim (SSK) II Airport in Pekanbaru, Riau Island, was shut down temporarily due to the haze on June 20, 2013.

Singapore urged people to remain indoors amid unprecedented levels of air pollution, while Malaysia closed 200 schools and banned open-air burning in some areas last year.

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(T.SYS/A/KR-BSR/F001) 01-02-2014 14:18:15

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