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Early haze in Sumatra may be due to abnormally dry weather

Haze from forest and peat land fires is again on the rise in Sumatra. Experts’ opinions about the cause of the haze differ but some believe it is due to a weather anomaly that has drastically reduced rainfall throughout Sumatra and Kalimantan, causing dry spells in various areas.

JAKARTA: Haze from forest and peat land fires is again on the rise in Sumatra.

Thick haze has begun to disrupt flights and forced a number of schools to temporarily close.

There were at least 460 hot spots recorded as of Wednesday.

Experts’ opinions about the cause of the haze differ but some believe it is due to a weather anomaly that has drastically reduced rainfall throughout Sumatra and Kalimantan, causing dry spells in various areas.

The abnormal warming in the equatorial Pacific is influenced by the El-Nino weather phenomenon.

The dry weather is helping forest and peat fires spread in six areas across the archipelago, mostly in Sumatra.

The worst affected areas are in Riau's Dumai, Bengkalis and Siak regencies.

The peatland fires have again been exacerbated by the illegal clearing of land using slash and burn techniques.

The Ministry of Forestry has activated its Manggala Agni forest fire teams, and the Local Disaster Mitigation Agency has begun to put out the blazes.

At the national level, the Disaster Mitigation Agency will also start to roll out its plans to extinguish the fires.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for National Disaster Mitigation Agency, said: "In anticipation of future fires, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency will carry out two operations.

“First, we will deploy military troops, police, forest fire teams as well as related agencies to extinguish the forest and peat land fires. We will also further socialise and enforce the law. Second, we will again conduct aerial operations such as water bombing and weather modification."

Mr Sutopo said wind is currently blowing south, bringing the haze closer to West Sumatra and Jambi, and at this stage, not towards Singapore and Malaysia. 

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