Haze from Indonesia forest fires 'unlikely to affect' Singapore, Malaysia

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Indonesian firefighters battle a forest fire in Sumatra island on February 20, 2018. (Courtesy: Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency BNPB)
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Indonesian firefighters battle a forest fire in Sumatra island on February 20, 2018. (Courtesy: Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency BNPB)
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Indonesian firefighters battle a forest fire in Sumatra island on February 20, 2018. (Courtesy: Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency BNPB)
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(Courtesy: Indonesia's National Disaster Mitigation Agency BNPB)
Updated 23 February 2018
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Haze from Indonesia forest fires 'unlikely to affect' Singapore, Malaysia

JAKARTA: Forest fires in Indonesia’s South Sumatra province were subdued on Friday, reducing the possibility of neighboring Singapore and Malaysia being affected by haze.

No fires were detected in the province after heavy rain for the past two days, said a South Sumatra official. “It’s safe for the moment,” he told Arab News.

Governors in South Sumatra, Riau, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan provinces declared emergency alerts in anticipation of forest and land fires.

“At least until the next two months, there are no winds blowing toward Singapore or Malaysia,” Harry Tirto Djatmiko, spokesman for Indonesia’s national weather agency BMKG, told Arab News.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, on Wednesday said by declaring emergency alerts, the provinces — which are entering the dry season — will have easier access to personnel, budgets, logistics and support from the central government, with a more coordinated chain of command to combat forest fires.

“The dry season will be more intense from June to September. That’s when forest fires usually worsen,” he said.

“We’re preparing our support by providing planes for cloud seeding and helicopters for water bombing.”

According to a Global Forest Watch report, there were 3,362 alerts from forest or land fires in Indonesia from Feb. 14-21.

The report showed that the highest number of alerts originated from West Kalimantan with 1,442, and 736 in Riau.

Containing forest fires will be extremely important this year for Indonesia as it is hosting the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, the provincial capital of South Sumatra. The games will start on Aug. 18 and end on Sept. 2.

President Joko Widodo on Feb. 6 urged authorities to prevent haze from forest fires disrupting the games.

“I guarantee that there will be no haze. We would lose our face if there were any haze,” he said.


UN chief: ‘Time for concrete action’ on North Korea

Now it is time for concrete action, says the UN chief. (AFP)
Updated 38 min ago
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UN chief: ‘Time for concrete action’ on North Korea

  • Guterres welcomed the announcement by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a summit with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for concrete action to follow up on North Korea’s commitment to close a missile test site with international monitors present.

Guterres welcomed the announcement by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a summit with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang.

“The commitments reflected in the joint statement include important military confidence-building measures and a commitment by the DPRK to dismantle missile engine testing infrastructure in the presence of experts from related countries,” Guterres said in a statement. 

“Now it is time for concrete action.” 

Guterres offered UN help to advance efforts to fully rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons and called for unity among global powers.