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    Oct 30, 2015

    Jokowi stays in Sumatra to oversee haze fighting efforts


    INDONESIAN President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo yesterday arrived in South Sumatra from the United States to inspect one of the four provinces still plagued by high numbers of hot spots, while rainfall abated the haze situation in the region.

    Mr Joko will stay in South Sumatra's Ogan Komering Ilir regency until tomorrow, as he wants to ensure that efforts in extinguishing the local forest fires are carried out effectively, reported the Tempo online daily.

    A regency in Indonesia is equivalent to a county.

    He also wants to make sure emergency services encompassing health, education and social aids are carried out smoothly.

    Presidential spokesman Ari Dwipayana said the president is remaining in South Sumatra because the local forest fires have spread widely.

    Mr Joko would also be briefed on preventive actions against forest fires and legal efforts made in punishing those who started them.

    The President cancelled several agendas in San Francisco to rush back to attend to the last unyielding hot spots in Sumatra.

    According to Sugarin Widayat, head of the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics' branch in Pekanbaru, South Sumatra had 104 hot spots yesterday, while there were four in Jambi, three in Lampung and none in the province of Riau.

    Mr Sugarin added that rainfall will continue to improve the haze conditions in Sumatra.

    The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) readings were in the moderate range for Riau and Jambi last evening, while the air quality was in the unhealthy range for South Sumatra, with the PSI at 170.

    Even the haze in Central Kalimantan, which often sent the local PSI into the range of four digits, seemed to be dwindling, following three days of rain which doused many peatland fires, reported Banjarmasin Post.

    The PSI of provincial capital Palangkaraya last evening was around 130.

    On Wednesday, there were 169 hot spots detected in Central Kalimantan, 86 in East Kalimantan and 27 in South Kalimantan.

    In Malaysia, Che Gayah Ismail, director-general of the country's Meteorological Department told Agence France-Presse that with the onset of the rainy season, "we should have blue skies and no more haze".

    As for Singapore, air quality for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the moderate range, said the National Environment Agency in a 5.20pm update yesterday. Thundery showers are forecast during the pre-dawn hours.