Jul 25, 2013

    Some respite for Riau amid haze battle

    HAZE conditions in parts of Riau have improved as soldiers and firemen descended on the Indonesian province to battle fires raging there.

    Officials said that Dumai, the city at the centre of the region's worst haze last month, had a Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) level of below 100 yesterday, The Straits Times reported, compared to the 900 reading at the peak of the crisis on June 24.

    Dumai mayor Khairul Anwar told The Straits Times that the situation had improved over the past three days.

    "Today is not that bad. When it's bad, the sun turns reddish. Now, the sun is looking normal," he said.

    Meanwhile, the Riau disaster-management agency said it was getting 1,300 reinforcements from military territorial command posts across Riau.

    Some 100 agency officers have already been deployed to fight fires in each of the province's two cities and 10 regencies, according to The Straits Times.

    Planes were used to conduct cloud seeding in an attempt to chemically induce rain yesterday.

    While fires continued to rage in parts of Riau, the number of hot spots detected dropped to 89, Singapore's National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a statement yesterday. Some hot spots could have remained undetected due to cloud cover.

    In Malaysia, the haze moved north to shroud parts of Terengganu, Kelantan and Penang, causing visibility to drop.

    Air quality in Malacca and Kuala Lumpur had improved, with the Air Pollutant Index hovering at the moderate level.

    Singapore's air quality is expected to remain in the good range today, NEA said.