Indonesia: Riau hotspots jumps to 1,234

The Jakarta Post 24 Feb 14;

The number of hotspots detected in Riau province jumped by nearby 20 times to 1,234 on Monday, scattered across eight regencies/cities, according to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG).

Ardhitama, a BMKG Pekanbaru analyst, said that the the Terra and Aqua Satellite detected 1,398 hotspots in total across Sumatra.

"All were detected this morning," he said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Ardhitama explained that of the hotspots in Riau, 525 were in Bengkalis regency, 209 in Siak, 141 in Meranti, 126 in Dumai city, 118 in Pelalawan, 74 in Indragiri Hilir, 48 in Rokan Hilir and four in Indragiri Hulu.

Other hotspots were detected on Monday in Riau Islands (43), Jambi (25), West Sumatra (5), Lampung and Belitung with one hotspot each.

Meanwhile, according to the United States' National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hotspots were also detected in a number of neighboring countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. (idb)

Riau visibility drops to 50 meters due to thick haze
The Jakarta Post 24 Feb 14;

Worsening forest fires in some areas of Riau have reduced visibility to around 50 meters, according to an analyst from the local office of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) on Monday.

The visibility level was recorded in Pelalawan regency, the hardest-hit area, said BMKG analyst Ardhitama, adding that visibility in Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau, was also reported to have dipped below 500 meters.

"The decreasing air quality is due to the forest fires that have caused thick haze blanketing the Riau area. According to data obtained from the satellite, the number of hotspots in Riau has since Sunday increased [Feb. 23] to 1,234," Ardhitama said in Pekanbaru as quoted by Antara news agency.

Bengkalis Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) chief Muhammad Jalal said raging fires had burned down four houses and a school building in Bukit Batu district.

"About 87 families had to be evacuated due to the worsening fires near their homes," Jalal added.

Respiratory infection sufferers on the rise in Riau
The Jakarta Post 24 Feb 14;

The number of patients with respiratory infections (ISPA) caused by clouds of haze in Riau has increased to around 20,000 from 15,000, the province's health agency says.

"The figures are from data compiled in several regencies and municipalities since the end of January to Feb.23," Riau health agency head Zainal Arifin said in Pekanbaru on Monday, as quoted by Antara news agency.

He said that the number of ISPA patients in January was less than 5,000 but grew to 15,292 last week and that now there were more than 20,000 people were suffering from the illness. The figures did not include patients suffering other haze-related illnesses such as skin and eye irritations.

Zainal urged Riau residents to reduce activities outside of homes or buildings as conditions had continued to worsen due to smoke clouds from land fires.

He said air-pollution levels in several regencies and municipalities in Riau such as Dumai city, Pelalawan and Siak regency were considered to be “dangerous” to health. (idb/ebf)