Medan, N Sumatra (ANTARA News) - A total of 28 flights at Kualanamu Airport, North Sumatra, were delayed on Sunday due to thick smock covering the airport.

"Up to 9 pm on Sunday, a number of flights at Kualanamu airport were delayed. There was also a plane flying from Aceh province which was forced to land in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia," Kualanamu Airport Duty Manager Djamal Amri said here on Sunday night.

He said that the delay of flight departures happened with all flight routes, particularly flights to Pekanbaru, Riau province.

At least 24 flights were delayed for hours at Bakanbarus Sultan Syarif Kasim II (SSK II) Airport due to thick haze blanketing the Riau Provincial city of Pekanbaru on Saturday, an airport official said.

"The longest delay, reaching nine hours, happened with a Lion Air plane from Kuala Namu airport, North Sumatra, to Pekanbarus SSK II airport," Hasnan, the airport duty manager, said here on Saturday.

The Lion Air plane was scheduled to arrive at SSK II airport at 7 am, but due to thick smoke the plane did not land until 4 pm.

He said other flights had an average delay of about three hours.

"Visibility happened to drop to 800 meters because of the smog that covered the airport," he added.

Baiquni, who took over as airport duty manager on Saturday night said, on average, there were 10 scheduled flights that were disrupted every day.

Thus, over the past three weeks about 210 flights were delayed at the SSK II airport in Pekanbaru.

Those flights included domestic and international flights.

The Terra and Aqua satellite has detected 1,046 hotspots from forests, plantations and peatland fires across Sumatra Island, it was reported Saturday morning.

"Of the total number, 963 were found in Riau Province. The number is significantly up from those on the previous day," Sugarin, the head of the Pekanbaru meteorological, climatology and geophysics agency, said here on Saturday.

The NOAA 18 satellite, however, detected only 138 hotspots across Sumatra on Friday, including 70 in Riau province, according to the Riau disaster mitigation office (BPBD).

So far this month, the NOAA 8 satellite revealed 2,208 hotspots on Sumatra Island, including 1,272 in Riau Province.

In Riau, hotspots were found in Bengkalis (312), Pelalawan (198 titik), Dumai (174), Siak (147), Indragiri Hilir (130), Rokan Hilir (110), Meranti (91), Kampar (49), Indragiri Hulu (29), and Kuantan Singingi (16).

Also, Chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Syamsul Maarif stated that some 99 percent of forest and plantation fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan were deliberately set.

"There should be sanctions to stop recurrences. Slash-and-burn farming methods exist in Sumatra and Kalimantan, but the most important thing is that they should be controlled," Maarif noted in a statement on Feb. 28.



Editor: Suryanto
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