Haze returns to Palembang, Indonesia with record 921 air pollutant reading

Prior to this, Palembang had been enjoying three weeks of fresh air.

Matthias Ang| October 15, 07:24 PM

The haze is back in Indonesia, and has hit an alarming level in the province of South Sumatra.

The air pollutant index saw a record reading of 921 in the provincial capital of Palembang on Oct. 14, The Straits Times reported.

Visibility has been reduced to 50m, while most schools have been forced to close for three days since Monday, with an extension in place if conditions do not improve, Reuters further reported.

1,547 new fires detected across Indonesia

Both The New Straits Times and Reuters reported that the number of new hotspots totalled 1,547, with fires detected in the provinces of Riau, Jambi, Kalimantan and South Sumatra, among others.

Almost 700 of the fires have been detected within the province of South Sumatra alone Aljazeera highlighted.

The Jakarta Post further noted that these fires mark the end of three weeks of fresh air for Sumatra.

66 million litres of water dropped in South Sumatra

A spokesman for Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency stated that seven helicopters have dropped about 66 million litres of water within the province of South Sumatra.

Over 8,000 personnel have also been mobilised to combat the flames, while 14 tons of salt are intended to induce rain, in expectation of worsening fires.

A government spokesperson for Jambi city, urged students, teachers and administrative staff to wear masks for their protection during their commute.

The city has also taken the additional step of closing kindergartens for three days.

NEA: Singapore unlikely to be affected by haze

In its latest haze situation update on Oct. 15, the National Environment Agency (NEA) stated that the likelihood of Singapore being affected by transboundary haze from the fires remains low.

NEA further explained that prevailing winds in the region are expected to be generally light, and blow from the east or southeast.

Showers have also been forecast for Singapore and Sumatra.

Reports differ over causes of new fires

It is not clear how the new fires have started.

Indonesian media Antara reported that the fires may have been induced by the natural El Nino phenomenon, which triggered a prolonged drought across the country.

However, Aljazeera claimed that the new fires have been deliberately started.

Top image from @asriel1606 Twitter


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