Smog crates new hotspots in Sumatra

Antara 22 Aug 11;

Dumai, Riau(ANTARA News) - Thick smog has been covering Dumai in Riau province, caused by newly appearing hotspots. The weather agency had also detected at least 36 new hot spots in Sumatra Island causing heavy smog. According to the Meteorology, Geophysic and Climatology Agency (BMKG) Riau is prone to forest fires and smoke along with low rain intensity.

A local BMKG analyst Yudhistira Mawaddah said that the number of hot spots in South Sumatra had reached 11 points, eight in Jambi, two in North Sumatra, one each in Lampung and Aceh.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said 18 monitoring sattelites operated by the United States indicated there are 13 new hotspots in Riau.

The new Riau hotspots covered seven districts in Indragiri Hilir, Indragiri Hulu, Kampar, Siak and Rokan Hulu.

"Meanwhile three hotspots had been recorded in Palawan district and three more in Rokan Hilir district with a fairly rapid growth," said Yudhishthira.

The smog was an indication of the remaining of forests and land fires in some areas of the city or districts of Riau province.

The heavy smog starts at around 4.30 am local time a local resident who said is disturbed by the heavy smog.

"The heavy smog was visible once I got out of my home and when going to a nearby mosque for Morning Prayer at 4.30 am," he said.

Streets and roads in Dumai are also reported to be covered by the smog. (SYS/A050/B003)

Editor: Suryanto

Haze disrupts flights in Pekanbaru
Rizal Harahap and Jon Afrizal, The Jakarta Post 22 Aug 11;

Thick haze at Pekanbaru’s Sultan Syarif Kasim II Airport delayed two flights on Sunday and led officials to re-direct an incoming flight to Batam.

Ground controllers delayed Lion Air and Garuda Indonesia flights heading for Jakarta that were supposed to depart at 7 a.m.

“Lion flight number 393 finally took off at 7:45 a.m., while Garuda flight 171 only took off at 8:30 a.m.,” airport manager Gurit Setiawan said on Sunday.

Visibility was only 300 meters at 7 a.m., making it too risky to take off or land, he said.

The haze also led air traffic controllers to reroute an incoming Garuda flight to Batam.

Based on monitoring by the Pekanbaru office of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), the number of hot spots in Sumatra reached 93 on Sunday, with South Sumatra having the highest with 69, followed by Jambi with 14.

“Riau used to have the highest record in hot spots, but apparently it has now moved to South Sumatra,” Ardhitama of BMKG Pekanbaru said.

The agency warned that all regencies and cities in Riau would receive less fewer rainfall during the current dry season, and the dry conditions would easily spark fires on peat lands, according to the Antara news agency.

Yudhistira Mawaddah, an analyst at the BMKG Riau office said in Dumai on Friday that weather forecasts in Riau tended to show cloudy weather, especially in the central and western parts of Riau.

In Padang, the capital of West Sumatra province, the local BMKG office detected seven hot spots in the province on Sunday, falling substantially from 20 a week earlier. The seven hot spots were detected in the Pasaman, Dhamasraya and Solok areas.

“The number of hot spots in West Sumatra monitored via the satellite is falling from last week primarily due to heavy rainfall over the last several days,” Budi Iman, coordinator of the local BMKG office, said as quoted by Antara.

The city of Jambi in the neighboring Jambi province, where 14 hot spots were detected on Sunday, was also shrouded by the haze.

Doni Osmond, an official of the local forestry office, said that the haze came from Muarojambi regency, where forest fires were reported.

“The forest fires have been taking place for the past few days. Firefighters are still struggling to extinguish them,” said Hasvia, Doni’s colleague, who blamed the fires on people clearing land for cultivation.