Indonesia: Three More Provinces at Risk of Forest Fires This Year - Minister

Robertus Wardi Jakarta Globe 4 Aug 17;

Jakarta. A severe risk of forest fires has been identified in at least eight of Indonesia's provinces, as the country braces itself for a return of the annual scourge.

In addition to five previously identified areas, hot spots have now also been detected in Aceh, West Kalimantan and East Nusa Tenggara, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said on Thursday (04/07).

"The government is taking this very seriously. As the president has instructed, we must be able to tackle this," Wiranto told reporters after a coordination meeting with several other ministers and state officials in Jakarta.

Indonesia was hit by the worst forest fires on record two years ago, when Sumatra and Kalimantan were blanketed in choking haze that also affected neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.

The fires, partly started to clear land for palm oil plantations, destroyed vegetation on millions of hectares of land, afflicting more than half a million people with serious health problems. It also resulted in massive economic losses.

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