Jul 11, 2013

    State of emergency in Riau ends today

    THE state of emergency in Riau will be lifted today as the haze situation has improved greatly, and the province will enter the recovery phase, Indonesia has said.

    "The haze status will be lifted on July 11, and Riau will be in the recovery phase until October. Presently, the task force is completing its unfinished tasks and the responsibility will shift from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) to the Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD)," said Riau haze task-force coordinator Agus Wibowo on Tuesday.

    He said that thousands of soldiers and policemen would remain in Riau until next Sunday.

    After that, the BNPB will decide whether they are still needed there or if they can return to their regular posts.

    Mr Agus said that Siak and Bengkalis regencies were still experiencing hazy conditions, while the other 10 regencies or cities were haze-free.

    "But we remain alert because the ground has started to dry. This month is usually the peak of the dry season in Riau. That's why we have kept our people in the field. Their job now is not to only fight forest fires, but also to catch people who cause fires," he said.

    The BNPB has three helicopters for water bombing. "The three helicopters will be used to fight fires in Siak and Bengkalis. We have found it difficult to put out fires in the two areas," he said.