Best of our wild blogs: 7 Oct 14

A morning in Ubin (October 6, 2014)
from Rojak Librarian

Butterflies Around Ulu Sembawang Park Connector
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

White-breasted Waterhen foraging in the rain
from Bird Ecology Study Group

Ferruginous Flycatcher (Muscicapa ferruginea)
from Singapore Bird Group

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PA dives into the blue to drive home green message

Janice Heng The Straits Times AsiaOne 7 Oct 14;

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean helping to lift a discarded television set out of Sungei Api Api into a boat, to be thrown away later.

Singaporeans are already passionate about water sports. Now, the People's Association (PA) hopes to channel some of that enthusiasm into conservation.

This will be done through the PA's eight Water-Venture centres located near bodies of water such as Jurong Lake. These provide facilities for sports such as kayaking and dragon-boat racing.

But by the end of the month, each centre will have a new grassroots committee that will organise nature walks and set up interest groups in conservation too, along with getting residents to bond through water sports.

These Water-Venture committees will also drive the year-long Project Blue WaVe, which will reach out to students and residents on environmental issues.

The green message will be pushed by a hawksbill turtle mascot named Bobby. A comic about its adventures and how litter threatens marine animals will be shared on the project's Facebook page.

The project was launched yesterday morning at the Pasir Ris Water-Venture Outlet by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, an adviser to Pasir Ris-Punggol Grassroots Organisations.

More than 300 residents and students were there to clean up the beach and its surroundings.

Mr Teo joined more than 100 of them in kayaking up Sungei Api Api to fish litter out of the river.

Among their finds was an old television set, which Mr Teo helped to dredge up just before a heavy downpour forced the kayakers to shore.

Such activities teach participants about the environment and give them "an opportunity to go out and appreciate what it means to have green rivers", said DPM Teo.

Project Blue WaVe is PA's first foray into conservation.

But going green is also a way to bring people together, said PA chief executive director Ang Hak Seng.

That is the thinking behind the new Water-Venture committees, he added. "We want to turn PA facilities into an engagement platform."

One activity being considered is to pair young people, including vulnerable youth, with grassroots leaders to kayak together.

Mr Alvin Yeo, chairman of Pasir Ris' Water-Venture committee, will also ask residents for interest group ideas.

He also has outreach events planned to spread the green message. "My hope is to get our residents to know that we should keep our rivers and beaches clean."

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NEA presses Jakarta as PSI hits 153

Today Online 7 Oct 14;

SINGAPORE — The island was engulfed by unhealthy levels of smog yesterday, prompting the National Environment Agency (NEA) to request the Indonesian authorities to take immediate action to suppress the forest fires in Sumatra and provide urgent updates on the situation.

The latest bout of haze could see the recently-enacted Transboundary Haze Pollution Act come into force. Under the Act, which commenced on Sept 25, an offence would be deemed to have occurred if the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) in any part of Singapore hits 101 or more — venturing into the unhealthy range and beyond — for a 24-hour period or longer.

The hazy conditions were expected to persist today. In a haze situation update issued at 8pm yesterday, the NEA said overall air quality over the next 24 hours is expected to be in the unhealthy range of between 101 and 200. As of 11pm, the 24-hour PSI reading was 91 to 107.

Throughout yesterday, residents across the island complained of a burning smell. Visibility was also affected. The three-hour PSI reading rose steadily in the morning and reached the unhealthy range at 1pm. Air quality then worsened in the evening, with the three-hour PSI hitting a high of 153 at 7pm — the highest reading since the air quality reporting was tweaked in April to incorporate levels of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5.

The NEA attributed the hazy conditions to smoke haze blown in from central Sumatra by the prevailing south-westerly winds.

Widespread smoke haze was also visible in the southern and eastern parts of Kalimantan. The number of hot spots detected in Sumatra and Kalimantan yesterday was 97 and 74, respectively.

The agency said the Republic had been affected by haze since late morning yesterday, with elevated PM2.5 levels in all parts of the island.

At one point, the one-hour concentrations of PM2.5 rose to 131 microgrammes per cubic metre in the southern part of Singapore, way past its normal levels of between 20 and 40 microgrammes per cubic metre.

The NEA said given the air-quality forecast for today, healthy people should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, while the elderly, pregnant women and children should minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion.

Those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. Those who do not feel well, especially the elderly and children, and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, should seek medical attention.

Singapore was hit by its worst bout of haze in June last year, when the PSI levels skyrocketed to an unprecedented 401.

Over the past weeks, the haze has returned on several occasions, with air quality reaching unhealthy levels — notably during the Singapore Grand Prix weekend last month.

PSI hits unhealthy range, conditions 'expected to persist': NEA
Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 6 Oct 14;

SINGAPORE: The Republic's air quality reached unhealthy levels on Monday (Oct 6), after days of relatively clear skies. The air quality reached levels understood to be the worst since a new air quality reporting system - which takes into account fine particulate matter - was implemented in April this year.

Monday's 3-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading was 136 as of 9pm, after hitting a high of 153 at 7pm.

The hazy conditions are "expected to persist overnight" and into Tuesday, said the National Environment Agency (NEA). "The overall air quality for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the high-end of moderate and unhealthy range," added the NEA. The 24-hr PSI was at 9pm stood at 84-98, in the moderate range.

"PM2.5 levels are elevated in all regions of Singapore, with the 1-hr concentrations of PM2.5 rising to 131μg/m3 in the southern region of Singapore," said the NEA in an advisory, adding that "the haziness was due to smoke haze from a nearby source in central Sumatra, being blown in by the prevailing southwesterly winds".

It said 97 hotspots were detected in Sumatra on Monday, 74 of which were in Kalimantan. The agency said it has requested for an "urgent update" of the situation on the ground from Indonesian authorities and has also asked them to take immediate action to suppress the fires.

The 3-hour PSI reading of 153 is understood to be the worst since the NEA implemented a new air quality reporting system in April, which incorporates PM2.5 levels - or fine particulate matter concentrations - into its readings. It is also the highest PSI level since the haze made a reappearance in September.

The three-hour PSI reading stayed in the moderate range in the morning, but climbed steadily to cross into the 'unhealthy' range at 1pm, with a reading of 104. Callers to the Channel NewsAsia's hotline also complained of a strong burning smell in the air in the central and southern parts of Singapore, while residents in the west complained about poor visibility.

NEA has encouraged Singaporeans to reduce outdoor activities and physical exertion to "help limit the ill effects from haze exposure". "Given the air quality forecast for tomorrow, healthy persons should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion," said the NEA.

"The elderly, pregnant women and children should minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, while those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. Persons who are not feeling well, especially the elderly and children, and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, should seek medical attention."

However, Monday's haze did not stop many from taking advantage of a long weekend to enjoy outings with friends and family.

At the East Coast Park, a popular beach area, many were seen indulging in some family time, such as taking a dip in the water and enjoying water sports. However, some stall holders at the nearby East Coast Lagoon Food Village said that their afternoon business had been affected by about 10 per cent, with many regular joggers and families choosing to stay indoors after seeing hazy skies.

- CNA/av/al

Air quality ‘unhealthy’: 3-hour PSI level reaches 153 at 7pm
Today Online 6 Oct 14;

SINGAPORE – Air quality entered the unhealthy range today (Oct 6), with the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reaching 153 at 7pm, the highest in the latest bout of haze to hit Singapore in recent weeks.

The three-hour PSI crept upwards steadily from the morning, rising from the mid-50s to 88 at noon, first breaching the unhealthy level at 1pm. The 3-hour PSI then continued rising. At 8pm, the three-hour PSI was at 149. The 24-hour PSI at 8pm for overall Singapore was 83-94.

In an update at 8pm, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said the PM2.5 levels are elevated in all regions of Singapore, with the one-hour concentrations of PM2.5 rising to 131μg/m3 in the southern region of Singapore. "The haziness was due to smoke haze blown in from central Sumatra by the prevailing southwesterly winds," said the NEA. Earlier on today, the NEA noted the "significant deterioration in the air quality in most regions of Singapore".

A total of 97 and 74 hotspots were detected in Sumatra and Kalimantan, respectively, today. Smoke haze from central Sumatra continued to be blown by the prevailing winds across the Straits of Malacca towards Singapore and the southern part of Peninsular Malaysia. Widespread smoke haze is also visible in the southern and eastern parts of Kalimantan.

The NEA said it "has requested the Indonesian authorities for an urgent update on the ground situation in Sumatra, and to take immediate action to suppress the fires".

Hazy conditions in Singapore are expected to persist overnight. For tomorrow, the prevailing winds are forecast to blow from the south or south-west, and hazy conditions can still be expected for Singapore. The overall air quality for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the unhealthy range.

The NEA advised that given the air quality forecast for tomorrow, healthy persons should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. The elderly, pregnant women and children should minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, while those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. Persons who are not feeling well, especially the elderly and children, and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, should seek medical attention.

A PSI reading of 101 to 200 falls within the unhealthy range, while a 51 to 100 reading is considered moderate.

Facebook user Davy Devaraj said the air at upper thomson has a "strong burning smell", while Twitter user @1RSingapore said a there was a "strong burning smell" in the air at Yew Tee at about 2.50pm. Twitter user @isnani said the haze is "very bad today. You can see it. You can smell it."

Hazy holiday as PSI hits highest reading this year
Marissa Lee, Cheryl Faith Wee, Linette Heng My Paper AsiaOne 7 Oct 14;

The haze descended on Singapore again yesterday and looks set to continue today.

Air quality reached the worst levels so far this year with the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index at an unhealthy 153 at 7pm yesterday.

At such levels, healthy people should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. Older folk, pregnant women and children should minimise such activity, while those who do not feel well or have chronic lung or heart conditions should avoid it.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said that the pollution was due to smoke haze blown from central Sumatra by prevailing south-westerly winds. This is expected to continue today, with overall air quality expected to be in the unhealthy range.

The total number of hot spots detected in Sumatra and Kalimantan was 97 and 74 respectively, said the NEA yesterday.

The levels of PM2.5, which are small, toxic particles, were also elevated across the island yesterday, with the one-hour concentration of the particles rising to 131 micrograms per cubic metre in the southern areas at 6pm. A reading above 55mcg is considered unhealthy.

Before yesterday, the highest three-hour PSI reading this year was 129 last month. Last year's record was 401 in June.

Even so, activities at mosques over the Hari Raya Haji holiday went on smoothly yesterday. "Everything went well," said Imam Habib Hassan of Ba-Alwie Mosque in Bukit Timah. "Most of the prayers were held indoors, so there was no problem."

Some businesses with outdoor activities, however, saw a dip in customers. Italian restaurant Casa Verde, which has outlets in the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay, had a 20 to 30 per cent drop in customers yesterday, while cable-ski park Ski360 Degree in East Coast Park said sales dropped by around 10 per cent.

But the pollution failed to deter many people, who were determined to stay outdoors and enjoy the public holiday.

When The Straits Times visited Orchard Road yesterday afternoon, the outdoor walkways were packed.

And in the evening, around 400 people showed up for band performances at the Marina Bay Sands Waterfront Promenade.

Housewife Cheren Wong, 47, was there with her two sons, aged 15 and 17. "It was okay, as long as the PSI did not climb to over 200," she said. "If it continues to climb, it will definitely be a concern."

PSI readings of 201 to 300 are considered very unhealthy, and people are advised to wear an N95 mask if they have to be outdoors for several hours.

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Lion City’s green ranking worsens

WWF International’s Dr Lambertini said Singapore should focus on consuming wisely, such as choosing certified sustainable seafood.
Laura Elizabeth Philomin Today Online 7 Oct 14;

SINGAPORE — With the growing population driving up carbon emissions, Singapore’s environmental ranking has worsened in the latest Living Planet Report by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Out of more than 150 countries analysed, the report found Singapore to have the seventh-largest ecological footprint — a measure of the population’s demands on natural resources — in the world. Singapore ranked 12th in the 2012 report. In the top five are Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Denmark and Belgium.

With limited natural resources, about 70 per cent of Singapore’s footprint comes from carbon emissions, produced within the country as well as indirectly through activities driven by Singapore’s economy in other countries, the WWF said. Consuming large amounts of imported food and services also contributes to the amount of carbon emissions produced per capita.

If every person in the world lived like Singaporeans, 4.1 planets would be needed to sustain our needs, the WWF noted in its report.

Published biennially, this year’s report reflects 40 years of data from 1970 to 2010 gathered and calculated by the National Footprint Accounts from sources such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Energy Agency and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, among others.

The ecological footprint measures the amount of natural resources such as the productive land and water area a country has, versus how much is needed to sustain population development and absorb carbon emissions generated by these activities.

A country’s ranking is determined by goods and services consumed by an average person and the efficiency of resources used in providing these goods and services.

In an interview yesterday, WWF International’s director-general Marco Lambertini said Singapore is following the pattern of other high-income economies developing at the expense of resources. Aside from carbon emissions, consumption in these countries also drives habitat degradation and sometimes unsustainable practices in other countries, he said.

The report also found global wildlife populations have declined by more than half over the past 40 years, with the Asia-Pacific region showing the second-highest biodiversity loss due to accelerating development in the region in the past 20 years.

Beyond reducing consumption, Dr Lambertini said Singapore should focus on consuming wisely, such as choosing certified sustainable seafood and sustainable timber. “Consume products that have a lower footprint or no footprint or products that are incentivising sustainable practices,” he said, adding that consumers have more choices now.

As a global investment hub, Singapore can also make great impact by redirecting investments towards applying sustainable standards, investing in companies with high corporate social and environmental standards and divesting from fossil fuels.

“We’re also considering the footprint you’re having through operations outside and a lot of the carbon emissions are actually not necessarily in Singapore, but are also outsourced,” said Dr Lambertini. “All these investment here is a critical one because that’s really one of the key drivers of ecological footprint globally and you’re a major hub and you can really make a big difference there,”

He commended the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act as an innovative measure by Singapore to manage impact from other countries and suggested expanding this concept to other areas — such as carbon emissions and deforestation. This would help other countries preserve their existing natural assets, he said. “Their natural capital is everybody’s natural capital. It’s a common good that we need to be committed to preserve.”

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Sheep deaths during flight under probe

Lester Hio The Straits Times AsiaOne 7 Oct 14;

Singapore authorities are investigating why 174 sheep imported from Australia for today's korban ritual to mark Hari Raya Haji died during the flight from Perth.

Close to one in 10 of the 2,200 sheep were dead on arrival after the five-hour flight landed here on Thursday.

This was the first time so many deaths had occurred in such a consignment, said the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is examining the carcasses, while the Singapore Mosques Korban Committee (JKMS) is working with transporter SIA Cargo to investigate.

Korban - the Islamic ritual commemorating Prophet Ibrahim's obedience to God because of his willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail - is expected to go on as planned today.

The shortfall in sheep has mostly been made up for by extra lambs out of the 1,700 imported from Ireland.

Another 59 came from a buffer in the supply numbers. The animals from Ireland were priced at $575, while the ones from Australia cost $499.

More than 3,000 animals went to 26 mosques and organisations for the ritual, after which the meat will be distributed to family, friends, and the poor and needy.

AVA, which inspected the sheep and sent several of the carcasses for post-mortem, has ruled out the possibility of infectious disease, which could constitute a health risk to anyone eating the meat.

The flight time was too short for such diseases to take hold and spread, and the remaining animals were healthy and had passed quarantine, explained Dr Yap Him Hoo, group director of AVA's quarantine and inspection group.

"Clear signs" such as organ haemorrhage indicated that heat stress was the likely culprit, he added.

Two years ago, new livestock rules in Australia required exporters of livestock meant for slaughter to comply with internationally accepted animal welfare standards.

Mosques in Singapore had to prove that they met those standards, including giving each animal at least 0.6 sq m of space in its holding pen, and getting only trained, appointed personnel to carry out the slaughter.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim said on the sidelines of a seminar at the Lifelong Learning Institute that Singapore had begun to diversify its supply of korban animals to reduce the impact of incidents like Thursday's.

"Last year, we experimented with a small supply from Canada and a slightly larger supply from Ireland this year," he said. "In so doing, we can minimise the risk of such unexpected events."

Shipment of livestock for Korban arrives in Singapore
Nur Isyana Isaman and Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 4 Oct 14;

SINGAPORE: The shipment of livestock from Australia and Ireland for the Korban or sacrificial rites this year has arrived. 2,200 Australian sheep came on Thursday (Oct 2), and 1,700 Irish lambs arrived on Friday (Oct 3).

However, 174 sheep from Australia and one from Ireland did not survive the flight. In a news conference on Saturday (Oct 4), the Singapore Mosques Korban Committee said the dead sheep were inspected on site at the airport, and a few taken for post mortem.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said initial findings indicated heat stress as the cause of death. Singapore Airlines Cargo said the consignment was handled strictly according to international standards. Investigations showed the aircraft systems to be normal.

Despite the deaths, the Committee reassured those who have registered to perform the Korban rites on Sunday that they can still do so. It said the larger quantity of livestock imported this year, can compensate any shortfall. The Committee said in previous years, between five and seven sheep die when they were flown in from other countries.

At a separate community event, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said the unfortunate incident is a learning point which will be used to deal with future unforeseen circumstances.

"We are thankful the initial investigations by AVA has confirmed that the animals did not die of any disease. I think that's very important for us. So, the animals that will be for the annual Korban exercise tomorrow are all fit for Korban," said Dr Yaacob.

Dr Yap Him Hoo, Group Director, Quarantine and Inspection Group at AVA, explained why infectious disease could be ruled out as the cause of the animals' deaths: "For infectious disease there is always an incubation period. So that four to six hours is too short an incubation period, and the remaining animals that we saw are all healthy. That's the reason why we can say that infectious disease is not the cause of deaths in this case."

- CNA/by

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Malaysia: Massive waves hit Penang seafront

The Star 7 Oct 14;

Ocean's might: A man and his children watching the rare occurrence of huge waves splashing against the retaining wall at the Esplanade.

GEORGE TOWN: Strong west-southwesterly winds whipped up huge tidal waves here, driving the swells into retaining walls at the Esplanade and Gurney Drive.

The giant waves rose higher than lampposts along the promenade, drenching the roads with sea water.

Pedestrians were seen recording and snapping photographs as vehicles hit by the white foamy breakers inched along.

Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) workers and bulldozers were deployed to both locations to clear sand that was washed onto the roads.

At the Esplanade seafront, MPPP worker S. Prakash, 27, slipped and fell when a large wave hit him as he was clearing the pathway filled with sand.

“Throughout my five years with the MPPP, I’ve never seen such huge waves.

“I panicked when I saw how high they were,” said Prakash who did not suffer any injuries.

Over in Batu Ferringhi, the tidal waves wreaked havoc at the food court in Miami Beach, destroying the tiled floor, tables and chairs.

No one was injured in the incident as most of the stalls were closed yesterday for Hari Raya Haji.

A spokesman from the Meteorological Department said the strong winds over Thailand had caused the huge waves to hit the northern states of Malaysia.

According to the department’s website, the strong winds had caused waves of up to 3.5m high over the waters off Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Miri in Sarawak, the west coast of Sabah and Labuan.

The strong winds and rough seas are expected to last until Sunday.

The department warned that current conditions would be dangerous to small crafts, recreational sea activities and sea sports.

State Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow meanwhile said the state government was not evading responsibility by blaming high rainfall for the recent flash floods.

“We acknowledge that our drainage systems were unable to cope with the intensity of rainfall in the two hours from 8pm to 10pm on Friday,” Chow told a press conference.

‘Giant’ waves hit Penang Esplanade
royce tan The Star 6 Oct 14;

GEORGE TOWN: Strong west-southwesterly winds have whipped up waves crashing on the retaining walls and causing huge splashes at the Esplanade here.

The giant waves reached higher than the lamp posts, causing sea water to spill onto the road, resulting in flash floods along Jalan Tun Syed Syeh Barakhbah on Monday.

Pedestrians were seen recording the rare phenomenon while vehicles moved slowly as the waves splashed over the retaining wall.

According to the Meteorological Department’s website, the strong west-southwesterly winds of 40kmph to 50kmph are causing waves up to 3.5m high over the waters off Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Miri, Sabah and Labuan.

The phenomenon is expected to last until next Sunday.

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Malaysia: WWF backs move to arm forest enforcers

yu ji The Star 7 Oct 14;

KUCHING: World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia (WWF) backs the Sarawak government’s move to arm its forest enforcers, and at the same time hopes that an independent third-party auditing system can be put in place to further improve forest management.

WWF Sarawak conservation head Dr Henry Chan said while it is good to better arm enforcers, measures are needed to improve the supply chain of legal timber, and to promote demand for wood coming from responsibly managed forests.

“An independent third-party auditing system will enhance transparency and strengthen the state’s credibility in long-term forest management improvements,” he said in a statement yesterday.

A third-party auditing system, he added, would also increase buyer confidence in the global market.

“Knowing the complexity of the industry, sometimes illegally felled trees make their way into the supply chain,” he noted.

He was responding to Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s recent announcement to issue 50 of the most senior enforcement officers in the state Forestry Department with firearms from this month to check the lack of enforcement in Sarawak’s timber industry.

Dr Chan also suggested getting agencies like the army and police to follow forest officers when they go deep into the interior to create a stronger presence among illegal loggers.

Another non-government organisation, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), had urged the state government last week to check on the harvest of Tapang logs at Sungai Pelutan.

“The logs are of the Tapang species, which is protected under the Sarawak Wildlife Protection Ordinance as it is rare and an important nesting tree for honey bees,” Sam had said.

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Indonesia: C. Kalimantan police arrest 95 forest and plantation fire setters

Antara 6 Oct 14;

Palangka Raya (ANTARA News) - The Central Kalimantan police have detained and named 95 people as suspects for setting fires in forest and plantation areas between January and October 3, 2014.

They will be charged under the Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP) or the Regional Regulation No. 5/2003, which carries a maximum punishment of six months imprisonment, Chief of the Central Kalimantan Provincial Police Brigadier General Bambang Hermanu remarked here on Monday.

"Whoever sets fire in forest or plantation areas will be sanctioned," he emphasized.

Last week, the local police detained 24 farmers for intentionally burning bushes to clear land for agricultural purposes.

"So far, we have not found any evidence of a plantation company involved in deliberate forest burning activities," he affirmed.

For the last two months, haze has shrouded Central Kalimantan resulting in delayed flight schedules and an increase in the number of cases of acute respiratory infections, including in the district of East Kotawaringin (Kotim) in the province.

"During July-September, more than 2.5 thousand residents of Kotim in Central Kalimantan suffered from respiratory infections due to the haze," Subagyo, an officer at the Kotim health office, stated on Oct 2, 2014, adding that most of the patients were infants.

In 2013, some 8,853 people in Kotim were diagnosed with respiratory problems, which increased to 9,217 from January to September this year, Subagyo pointed out.

The health office received this data from the 20 community health centers (Puskesmas) located in 17 sub-districts in Kotim.

Face masks have been sent to those Puskesmas to be distributed to the local residents.

Most locals have been wearing face masks to avoid inhaling the haze. Many have also started using helmet visors as the thick haze can trigger eye irritation.

On September 30, thick haze engulfed the area and reduced the visibility in Kotawaringin Timur district to just 30 meters.

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