"The amount of the compensation will be decided later, after holding coordination discussions with the local government," the BNPB chairman said.
Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The Ministry of Social Affairs will provide compensation for a haze victim who died in Riau province, according to National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Head Syamsul Maarif.

"The amount of the compensation will be decided later, after holding coordination discussions with the local government," the BNPB chairman said here on Thursday.

Syamsul Maarif made the remarks during a press conference held at a haze Task Force Command Post at Roesmin Nurjadin airport.

Earlier, it was reported that only a small number of patients had been admitted to Selasih Regional Public Hospital (RUSD) in Pangkalan Kerinci, Pelalawn last month.

Yet, one of them was reported to have died after suffering from haze-related illness. The identity of the victim has yet to be disclosed, and task force workers said earlier that the victim had lung problems, possibly causing his death during the period of smoke-induced haze.

The BNPB noted that the incident was an indicator that haze could trigger death, which was why the government continued to make efforts to prevent haze by deploying its full strength to extinguish hotspots from forest and land fires.

On Monday morning, thick haze from land fires covered Dumai City of Riau Province, decreasing visibility to 50 meters.

"The quality of air on Monday morning was at a very dangerous level for people and the environment, with the Air Pollution Standard Index reaching above 700 PSI. The incident could easily be the worst haze disaster in 2014," stated Chief of Health Sub-official for Dumai City Marjoko Santoso.

Marjoko explained that the quality of air in Dumai is worsening and is a reason for people to be concerned. Thousands of citizens in Dumai have been suffering from breathing problems and soreness of eyes and throat.

The Health Sub-official has distributed thousands of masks to people to avoid irritations.

"We will distribute 25 thousand masks across eight main streets and sub-districts on Monday. People should wear masks if they have to participate in outdoor activities," Marjoko reiterated.

Meanwhile, the Chief of Dumai Forestry Police, Tengku Ismet, stated that NOAA-18 satellite data has indicated at least 18 hot spots across privately owned land, as well as in the field of the ex-timber company in several sub-districts.

"We have found wider hot spot zones in ex-timber company areas in Sungai Sembilan Sub-district. So far, we have cooperated with the company to extinguish the fire," Ismet stated.

According to Ismet, the haze in Dumai is not only from the surrounding area, but also from neighboring districts that have severe forest and land fires.

Syamsur Maarif stated earlier 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 is that this should be controlled," Syamsul Maarif noted.

As part of law enforcement actions, the Indonesian police have named 23 suspects in Riau and 16 in Central Kalimantan for allegedly setting fires.

"There are several factors behind their decision to set fires in plantation and forest areas, such as economic, social and cultural factors," he explained.

The dry season in Sumatra and Kalimantan has triggered forest and plantation fires that produced haze. The haze has disrupted air transportation in the area and caused respiratory infections among thousands of people.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2014