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Pekanbaru engulfed in smog as more than 135 hot spots detected in Sumatra

Pekanbaru engulfed in smog as more than 135 hot spots detected in Sumatra

A forest and land fire task force officer dousing a fire at a palm plantation in Pekanbaru, Riau, on Jul 20, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Wahyudi)

PEKANBARU, Riau: More than 135 hot spots were detected in Sumatra on Tuesday (Jul 30) due to peat fire, as Pekanbaru, the provincial capital of Riau was enveloped in a thick veil of haze.

Data from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency indicated that forest and land fire contributed to a total of 138 hot spots in Sumatra as of 6am on Tuesday, and close to half were found in the Riau province, state news agency Antara reported.

Within Riau, 30 hot spots were detected in the Pelalawan district, which is located to the east of Pekanbaru.

“The wind is blowing from the southeast direction, at a speed of 10 to 30 km/h, towards Pekanbaru,” Mr Yasir, an analyst with the meteorological agency’s Pekanbaru station, told Antara.

Smog from peat fire has been affecting Pekabaru since last week.

On Tuesday morning, visibility in the capital was reduced to only four to five kilometres between 7am and 9am, Mr Yasir said.

READ: Riau blanketed in haze as peat fire spreads

READ: Plaintiffs in Jakarta air pollution lawsuit against government brace for long court tussle

Nonetheless, flight activities at the Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport in Pekanbaru were not disrupted, he added.

Meanwhile, news portal Riau24.com said there were no cases of schools sending students home early in Pekanbaru due to poor air quality.

“We encourage (schools) to reduce outdoor activities and (teachers and students) to wear masks,” Mr Abdul Jamal, head of the Pekanbaru Education Office, was quoted as saying.

As a precautionary measure, the Riau Health Office distributed 10,000 free masks to residents in Pekanbaru, according to a report by Kompas.

"The air has improved in the afternoon, but since the air condition changes, we are giving out masks in case smog returns to Pekanbaru again," the office's secretary Mr Yohanes was quoted as saying.

Source: AGENCIES/tx(aw)

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