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S`pore offers help to douse Sumatra forest fires

21st October 2010 | 734 Views
Batam, Riau Islands (ANTARA News) - Singapore has offered to help extinguish forest and bush fires in various parts of Indonesia`s Sumatra island that had now begun to affect the city state.

The neighboring country`s offer was made by its minister for environment and water resources, Yaacob Ibrahim, according to a Channelnews Asia report on Thursday.

As a result of the ongoing hot spots in Sumatra Island, haze had blanketed the sky over Singapore over the past three days.

Ibrahim said the border crossing smoke could not be regarded as a small problem. Therefore, Singapore was ready to offer help to Indonesia to work together to handle forest and bush fires as the cause of the haze, he said.

If the situation got worse, the environment ministers of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states need to hold a meeting for talks about necessary measures taken for resolving the problem, he said.

Ibrahim said a warning that possible forest fires could happen despite the ongoing wet weather condition this year had actually been underlined at a meeting in Brunei Darussalam recently.

On Wednesday afternoon, Singapore`s air pollution standard index was at 72 percent or lower than that of the day before.

Besides blanketing Singapore, the haze of forest and bush fires on various parts of Sumatra Island also covered the sky of Batam Island in Riau Islands Province on Wednesday.

The smoke also blanketed the sky above the areas near Batam, such as that of the islands of Rempang and Galang, a local climatologist and meteorologist said.

The haze was likely caused by the forest fires, and slash and burns on certain parts of the Sumatra Island, Agus Salim Lacuda said.

Despite the cloudy sky as a result of the haze, flights were not yet hampered due to clear enough visibility, he said.

"The pilots` visibility from Wednesday morning to mid day remains at six thousand meters. So this is still good for airplanes," said Lacuda, head of the Hang Nadim International Airport`s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics office.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration`s (NOAA) satellite has detected 202 hot spots on Indonesia`s Sumatra Island on Tuesday.

The Pekanbaru-based Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency`s analyst, Slamet Riyadi, said that most of the hot spots were found in South Sumatra Province with 66 hot spots.

The remaining hot spots were detected in the provinces of Jambi, Riau, Bangka Belitung, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Aceh, and Lampung with 42, 36, 24, 16, 13, 3 and 2 hot spots respectively, he said.

On Monday, the imagery data released by NOAA satellite showed 358 hot spots throughout the island. But the number decreased to 202 thanks to rainfalls in some provinces, he said.

The presence of hot spots in Riau and other provinces in Sumatra Island was one of the indications of forest and bush fires.

In extinguishing the forest and bush fire, the Riau provincial government was recommended to make artificial rain to halt the spread of fire, he said.

"We are going to ask the central government (through forestry ministry) to provide us with funds for making artificial rain," he said.(*)