Indonesia doing everything it can to fight flames, says Joko

18 Septembre, 2019, 05:38 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Tourists look out from Kuala Lumpur Tower as city stands shrouded with haze in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday

Poor visibility caused by smoke has caused delays of flights in Indonesia and Malaysia and prompted authorities to shut schools in some parts of the two countries.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited several hot spots in Riau province yesterday, including in Pelalawan regency, which was among the worst affected by uncontrolled fires that have been raging in parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Authorities on Monday said they had arrested almost 200 people suspected of being involved in activities that led to the out-of-control fires.

"Indonesian Police will enforce the law against anyone who is proven to have carried out forest and land burning, whether it was done intentionally or through negligence", National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told reporters in Jakarta.

"This is a last resort".

Indonesia's forestry and environment ministry said recently that authorities had sealed off at least 42 companies in the past week, including a Singaporean-based company and four firms affiliated with a Malaysian palm oil corporate group.

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Some of the most serious fires occur in peatlands, which are highly combustible when drained of water to be converted into plantations.

Air quality improved in Singapore and was in the "moderate" range after slipping to "unhealthy" levels over the weekend, officials there said.

Almost 150,000 people have been treated for acute respiratory infections linked to the haze in recent months, according to Indonesian health authorities.

While forest fires are an annual problem, the situation this year has been worsened by drier weather in Indonesia, with diplomatic tensions soaring as toxic smog drifts over to neighboring Malaysia and Singapore. He also ordered a crackdown against those responsible for the forest fires.

In Malaysia, where the haze has hit unhealthy levels in several states, the Selangor government has chose to get tough with people who start open fires.

Huge fires tearing through the Amazon are also compounding concerns about the long-term impact of such blazes on keeping global temperature levels stable.

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