Dozens hospitalized as thick haze spreads in Indonesia
Young children lie in hospital in Aceh province, Indonesia, as thick smoke caused by forest fires forces dozens of people to be treated for lung infections. Some schoolchildren were still able to go to school in Meulaboh yesterday wearing masks but several schools suspended classes so students could stay at home. In the past week, about 35 hotspotsconcentrations of fires-have destroyed 70 hectares of forests and other land in Aceh, the national disaster agency said.
“The land fires have been caused by people who clear their land by the traditional slash and burn method, so the fire spreads,” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purno Nugroho said. People are advised to monitor their land and not to slash and burn, especially since the current dry season makes it easy for forest fires to escalate, Nugroho added. Authorities are trying to put out the blazes and have warned of an escalating threat of forest fires with the dry season expected to continue for several months.
The haze is an annual problem in Indonesia caused by fires set in forest and on carbon-rich peatland in Indonesia to clear land for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. —AFP
INDONESIA: Acehnese schoolchildren clad in masks wait for their bus to school while shrouded in thick smoke due to peat forest fires in Meulaboh, Aceh province.—AFP