Antara 14 Jul 16;
Pekanbaru, Riau, July 14 (Antara)- As many as 23 hotspots, with 50 percent indicating forest and plantation fires, were detected in five provinces across Sumatra Island on Thursday.
The number dropped from 67 hotspots detected in Sumatras nine provinces earlier this week, Head of the Pekanbaru meteorology office Sugarin said here, Thursday.
According to data obtained from the Terra and Aqua Satellites, six hotspots each were found in Jambi and South Sumatra, five in Bangka Belitung, four in Riau, and two in Bengkulu.
In Riau Province, three hotspots were detected in Rokan Hilir and one in Dumai.
Of the three hotspots in Rokan Hilir, one is suspected to have arisen from a wildfire in a peatland area located in Bangko Sub-district.
During the period between January and June 2016, a total of 1.4 thousand hectares of forest, peatland, and plantation areas were ravaged by fires, Edward Sanger, head of the Riau disaster mitigation office, noted.
The Riau provincial administration has extended the provinces forest fire emergency status period, which had begun in June, to November 30.
"In accordance with the results of the evaluation conducted last week, we have agreed to extend the emergency status period," Commander of the Forest Fire Task Force in Riau Brigadier General Nurendi said.
By declaring the emergency status, the authorities are expected to be able to optimize their efforts to fight the fires that have affected Riau since the past 18 years.
In the meantime, Environmental Affairs and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya expressed relief that the public could celebrate the post-fasting Eid al-Fitr Islamic Holiday on July 6 without haze.
"We remain vigilant and have implemented various measures to anticipate forest fires," Nurbaya noted in a statement recently.
Based on data of the NOAA satellites, a total of 1,043 hotspots were detected during the January 1-July 9 period, a drop of 67.03 percent from 2,121 hotspots recorded during the same period in 2015.
The Terra and Aqua satellites, however, recorded a total of 1,868 hotspots in 2016, a decrease of 329 hotspots, or 14.97 percent, compared to that recorded in the corresponding period in the previous year.
However, the minister stated on July 11 that she did not want to rely on the data of hotspots obtained from satellites, particularly since they were operated by a foreign country.
"The most effective way is by conducting on-field checks through an integrated patrolling system," Nurbaya stated.(*)
Antara 14 Jul 16;