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173 hot spots detected in Riau

JAKARTA, July 22 (Bernama) -- The haze is back to blanket Riau and reduce vision this morning, to 70 metres at the Pekanbaru Airport, and 800 metres in Dumai.

This was caused by the increase in the number of hotspots detected in Riau, to hundreds, to indicate simultaneously that there was a recurrence in the burning of forests in a number of places in the province.

The hazy situation also affected arrivals and departures of aircraft to and from the Pekanbaru Airport, in Riau this morning.

The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) of Indonesia said, to date, satellite monitoring detected 173 hotspots in Riau.

This included 69 hotspots in Rokan Hilir, Bengkalis (41), Rokan Hulu (nine), Siak (20), Dumai (12) and one each in Kampar, Pelalawann and Kepulauan Meranti.

BNPB said smoke from the forest fires had badly affected the quality of air in a number of areas in Riau.

BNPB Information, Data and Public Relations Centre head Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the agency had coordinated aid to the Riau Government by providing two Hercules C-130 aircraft and four Casa aircraft for cloud seeding operations to avoid the haze disaster.

Water bombing operations were ongoing, using three BNPB Bolco helicopters and a Sikorsky helicopter which could carry 4,500 litres of water to be dropped on the hotspots in Riau, he said in a statement on Monday.

Equipment and soldiers were also in readiness to be mobilised if the situation warranted it.

The peak of the forest and peat fires is from August to October, whether in Sumatra or Kalimantan.

According to BNPB, 99 per cent of the forest fires were due to deliberate burning and in this regard, the agency had urged the authorities to be stern in their enforcement to deter and stop the burning of forests in Indonesia.

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