Six Provinces Impose State of Emergency as Forest Fires Loom

 

The authorities have declared a state of emergency in six provinces prone to devastating wildfires, as the dry season wears on in Indonesia.

According to state data, 538 hot spots have been detected across the country as of Tuesday (22/08), with the highest numbers in West Kalimantan — 193 — and Papua — 143.

The state of emergency has been imposed in West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, Jambi, Riau and South Sumatra.

“This is to make it easier to provide assistance,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement.

“The handling of the land and forest fires will be more coordinated.”

He added that the risk is likely to increase when the dry season reaches its peak in September.

“It is impossible to put out all hot spots across Indonesia.”

Forest fires have been an annually recurring problem in Sumatra and Kalimantan, which were blanketed in choking haze in 2015 alongside neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.

The fires destroyed vegetation on millions of hectares, afflicting more than half a million people with health problems and resulting in billions of dollars in financial losses.

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