Drought and cyclone Gillian absorbed the water vapor, thus reducing the possibility of rain."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The number of forest fire hotspots in Riau Province increased to 45 on Monday, from 10 the previous day, according to data received from the Haze Disaster Mitigation Task Force.

Drought and the use of fires to clear land have caused more hotspots to emerge, Sugarin, head of the Pekanbaru Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), said here on Tuesday.

Of the 45 hotspots, 27 were found in Rokan Hilir, seven in Dumai city, six in the Meranti Islands district, three in Siak and three in Bengkalis, according to the task force, which is based in Roesmin Nujardin Air Force Base.

Meanwhile, the Terra and Aqua satellites on Tuesday detected a total of 187 hotspots across Sumatra, including 163 in Riau.

Of the 163 hotspots, Rokan Hilir had 35; Pelalawan, six; Meranti Islands, 69; and Indragiri Hilir, four. Dumai city and Siak District had 29 and 17 hotspots, respectively.

The NOAA-18 satellite, however, reported only five hotspots in Riau on March 24.

"Drought and cyclone Gillian absorbed the water vapor, thus reducing the possibility of rain. Rains are predicted to start on March 28," stated Sugarin.

The National Disaster Mitigation Board (BNPB) said almost 90 percent of the forest and plantation fires in the Riau province had been extinguished.

"This morning, we received no report of new hotspots. But hotspots are not solely in the form of fires. They can also be found underground," BNPBs chief Syamsul Maarif noted on March 18.

Syamsul said a number of fires were still burning in the Siak district, where peat land is up to 5 meters deep.

It is believed that hotspots are still to be found beneath the peat land. Efforts to fight the fires are underway by sowing salt to create cloud seeds and induce rains and by showering water from planes.


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