Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Haze that blanketed South Sumatra during the past few days has prompted local authorities to place the province under an emergency alert status.

The decision to declare the emergency was taken at a coordination meeting led by the secretary of the provincial government and attended by representatives of the National Disaster Mitigation Board (BNPB), the Indonesian military and police, Head of BNPB Information Data Center and Public Relations Service Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said here on Friday.

Sutopo predicted the ongoing drought will affect South Sumatra until early October 2014.

If the haze cannot be dissipated, it is feared it will disturb the International Quran Recitation Competition, to be held in the provincial capital of Palembang from Sept 23-27, he said.

More than 50 countries will take part in the six-day contest.

"The South Sumatra provincial government has asked the BNPB to send more helicopters to conduct water bombing and cloud seeding operations," he said.

One Bolco helicopter and M-18 helicopter have been deployed in the province since July, he said.

Further, BNPB chief Syamsul Maarif has decided to begin conducting cloud seeding operations in South Sumatra on Monday (Sept 22) using an Indonesian Air Force (TNIA AU) Hercules plane.

He said two helicopters from the Malaysian state of Johor Baru and two Air Tractor planes from Australia will assist in the water bombing operations.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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