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Raging Forest Fires: State of Emergency Declared in Riau, Indonesia

Posted by feww on February 26, 2014


RIAU declares a state of emergency amid major forest fires

RIAU declared a province-wide state of emergency amid forest-clearing fires raging out of control due to drought.

Smog caused by record air pollution has enveloped a large region forcing the pollutants standard index (PSI) to climb to a hazardous 778, and prompting authorities to close schools and urge residents to stay at home.

Port officials along the Strait of Malacca, meanwhile, issued multiple warnings as visibility plunged to below 50m.

Riau Province is located in the central eastern coast of Sumatra, Indonesia’s largest island, along the Strait of Malacca.

Forest-Clearing Fires in Indonesia

Many of the fires, started intentionally to clear the forests, have been raging since early February, engulfing forests in six provinces on Sumatra Island.

smoke rises from burning forest
Smoke rises from a burning forest in Sumatra. Credit: Antara/FB Anggoro. Image may be subject to copyright.

Satellite images showed more than 700 hotspots in Sumatra alone on February 15, nearly twice the number the previous day, with at least 600 of the blazes in Riau Province , said a report.

“We have asked the central government to help with fighting fires by sending aircraft,” said the newly-sworn-in governor of Riau.

“If it’s just helicopters, we won’t be able to cope,” he added.

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