The Rokan Hilir Administration has been urged to step up measures to prevent forest fires."
Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The United States NOAA18 satellite operated by Singapore has detected 98 hotspots in Sumatra on Tuesday, of which 37 were in Riau province, according to an official from the Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD).

"The number of hotspots on Tuesday had declined from 133 recorded on the previous day in Sumatra, of which 85 were found in Riau Province," BPBD Head Said Saqlul Amri informed the press on Wednesday.

The 37 hotspots detected on Wednesday were scattered across several districts and municipalities such as Indragiri Hulu and Pelalawan where 9 hotspots were respectively found.

The BPBD also revealed that the districts of Bengkalis had 7 hotspots, Dumai City 3 hotspots, Rokan Hulu Siak and Kampar respectively 2, Rokan Hilir 1, Indragiri Hilir and Kuantan Sengigi respectively 1 hotspot.

However, the Modis Terra and Aqua satellites at 5 p.m. local time recorded only 18 hotspots in Riau Province. Of the 18, eight were found in Pelalawan, 3 in Kuatan Singingi and Roak Hilir, and 2 in Indragiri Hulu.

The other two hotspots were respectively found in the districts of Kampar and Indragiri Hilir.

In 2014, forest fires have destroyed 25 thousand hectares of forest and land, which resulted in the contamination of air over the Riau province.

Riau Governor Annas Maamun had previously called on all district heads and mayors of regions that suffered from forest fires to take anticipatory steps.

In connection with forest fire cases, the Riau police has arrested and named 183 people who had allegedly committed crimes of burning bushes or forests.

A total of 116 suspects were nabbed while conducting forest crime activities during the January-March period while 67 others were named suspects during the period between April 5 and July 10.

"The number of suspects could still increase because the on-field team is still on the lookout for criminals responsible for new forest fires," stated spokesman of Riau Police Adjunct Senior Commissioner Guntur Aryo Tejo.

In the meantime, the Terra and Aqua Satellites detected 417 hotspots in Riau Province on Monday last week, indicating an increase in widespread forest fires in the province.

According to Head of Data and Information Division of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Agus Wibowo, 417 hotspots were detected on Monday (July 21) at 5 a.m. local time, while a total of 570 hotspots were detected in Sumatra.

Data from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) revealed that the number of hotspots had been increasing over the past two days. A total of 75 hotspots had been detected on Saturday (July 19) and 154 on Sunday.

The hotspots are spread across 11 districts in Riau, mostly in Rokan Hilir District with 327 hotspots, followed by Bengkalis with 27, and Rokan Hulu with 21.

The confidence level of the data is 70 percent, indicating that the hotspots had reached 273. The region with the highest number of hotspots is Rokan Hilir, with 223 hotspots.

"The Rokan Hilir Administration has been urged to step up measures to prevent forest fires," Wibowo emphasized.

The potential of forest fires may increase as Riau is forecast to receive below-average rainfall.

"The wind direction has a potential to carry the haze to Malaysia," Wibowo added.

The haze has reduced the visibility range in Pelalawan and Indragiri Hulu to four to five kilometers.

A haze disaster alert status has been issued by the Riau Administration as the forest fire potential is still high due to the dry season and the El Nino effect.

The Haze Disaster Alert Task Force of Riau is fighting the fires with the support of the land personnel, three waterborne helicopters, and weather modification technology applications to create artificial rain.

Data from the task force has revealed that at least 499 hectares of land had caught fire, and 429 hectares have been extinguished.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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