Indonesia will send more than 10,000 troops to fight fires in Padamaran, as smoke makes thousands sick, pushes air quality to unhealthy levels in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia and delays flights. Indonesian troops will be sent to the provinces of South Sumatra and Jambi, two of the main hotspots. If necessary, the agency would also send in additional helicopters to help water-bomb fires.
South Sumatra, one of the main centres of the fires, has alone reported 22,585 cases of acute respiratory tract infections since Friday Indonesia has attempted over many years to end the seasonal fires but has failed each time to stop the smoke “haze”, caused by slash-and-burn clearances on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, where large areas of forest concessions are held by pulp and paper and palm oil companies.
“We have mobilised national resources to put out the fires,” Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency Chief Willem Rampangilei said in a news release.
Early on Friday, Singapore’s Pollutants Standard Index rose to 248, which categorises the air as “very unhealthy”, or one level below the index’s highest air pollution category of “hazardous”.
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