Four Indonesian provinces declare disaster alerts for forest, land fires

Four Indonesian provinces declare disaster alerts for forest, land fires

indo forest fires
A firefighter tries to extinguish a bush fire in Ogan Ilir regency, South Sumatra, Indonesia Aug 4, 2017. (Photo: Antara Foto/Nova Wahyudi/via REUTERS)

JAKARTA: Four Indonesian provinces have declared disaster alerts as threats of forest and land fires continue to rise at the start of the dry season in the country.

The provinces are South Sumatra, Riau, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan - all of which have been prone to forest fires in previous years.

Indonesia's disaster management agency said the governors of the provinces declared the alerts based on the number of hotspots and on the agency's recommendation.

"With the disaster alert status, the provinces will have easier access in terms of personal, logistics, funding and support from the central government to tackle forest fires," National Disaster Management Authority spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement on Wednesday (Feb 21).

The agency said there are a total of 90 hotspots throughout Indonesia in the past 24 hours through to 7am on Wednesday, as detected by the Terra and Aqua satellites. 

Most of the hotspots are in West Kalimantan.

Earlier this month, President Joko Widodo urged authorities to continue their efforts to prevent land and forest fires this year to ensure the Asian Games, which will be hosted by Indonesia, can proceed smoothly without any disruption of haze.

Mr Widodo said he had also promised the Prime Ministers of Singapore and Malaysia that 2018 would be a haze-free year. 

Source: CNA/ad