"As per satellite imagery and data, 386 hotspots were recorded in the Riau Province, which was highest in the country," Slamet Riyadi, the head of the Pekanbaru Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysical Agency (BMKG)s data and information section stated here on Monday.
In the Riau province, 136 hotspots were found in Bengkalis, 58 in Rokan Hilir, 52 in Meranti Islands, 35 in Dumai city, 34 in Siak, 28 in Indragiri Hilir, and one each in Rokan Hulu and Kampar respectively.
Scarcity of rains in the province has triggered the spread of forest fires, which are often deliberately set by some local farmers or plantation companies with vested interests to clear the land.
On Saturday morning (Feb. 15), the Terra and Aqua Satellite detected 704 hotspots in Sumatra, an increase of almost 100 percent from 357 recorded on the previous day. There were 611 hotspots recorded in the Riau Province, which was drastically up from 53 hotspots recorded a day earlier.
The 704 hotspots were spread across the six provinces on Sumatra Island, including 64 in North Sumatra, 18 in Aceh, four each in Jambi and Bangka Belitung, and three in the Riau Islands province, Sanya Gautami, an analyst at the BMKG noted on Feb. 15.
On February 11, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) held a coordination meeting with several government and law enforcement agencies to tackle the problem of haze from forest fires and drought this year.
The government will address the forest fire issue through land and aerial operations. The land operation will involve, among others, military officers, police, forest fire brigade units, and civilian security personnel.
The aerial operations will include air-borne water bombing and weather modification or cloud seeding technologies. The BNBP will rent the Be-200 Fire-Fighting Amphibious aircraft and the Kamov helicopter from Russia for water bombing.
EDITED BY INE.