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Rain brings some relief to hazy Indonesian regions

FIREFIGHTING EFFORT: Indonesian soldiers spraying water on a peatland fire near Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, yesterday. As of last evening, the PSI in Palangkaraya was around 370. PSI readings above 350 are considered to be in the hazardous range in Indonesia.


    Oct 29, 2015

    Rain brings some relief to hazy Indonesian regions


    RAINFALL this week in Sumatra and Kalimantan has eased the haze conditions in the two regions, even as some forests and peatlands continue burning, reported the local media yesterday.

    Air quality has improved in some areas, although visibility in Sumatra's Jambi city yesterday remained at 600m, according to an officer with the Indonesian Agency of Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG), after the rain late on Tuesday stopped.

    Edwar Sanger, chief of the National Board for Disaster Management's (BNPB's) Riau branch, said rainfall has reduced the number of hot spots in Riau province, which lies north of Jambi, the Tempo online newspaper reported.

    The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) in Pekanbaru, Riau's capital, was slightly above 100 last evening - which means the air is unhealthy to only sensitive groups of people.

    According to BNPB, only 10 hot spots were detected yesterday in Sumatra by satellite, and 130 in Kalimantan, both down from higher numbers in the hundreds.

    However, Sugarin Widayat, BMKG's chief in Pekanbaru, told Tempo that the sky of Riau was still clouded with haze from the remaining forest fires.

    In Central Kalimantan, the province where PSI readings have often soared above four digits, rain this week has helped improve air quality.

    Anton Budiyono - BMKG's chief in Palangkaraya, the provincial capital - said local PSI readings fluctuated over the last two days but did not rise above 900. As of last evening, the index was around 370.

    PSI readings above 350 are considered to be in the hazardous range in Indonesia.

    "The improvement in air quality is made possible by the heavy rain that flushed Central Kalimantan," Mr Anton told the Republika newspaper.

    He expects moderate rainfall in the region over the next few days, which is likely to ease the haze further.

    Earlier, the Indonesian government launched water-bombing raids over the blazes started by plantation companies to clear lands, but failed to bring the thousands of fires under control.

    BMKG head Andi Eka Sakya said yesterday that the haze situation over the region is expected to improve next month as the rainy season has arrived.

    In Singapore, thundery showers are expected today in the pre-dawn hours and early morning, said the National Environment Agency in a 6.20pm update yesterday.

    Slightly hazy conditions can still be expected. Air quality for the next 24 hours is also expected to be in the high end of the moderate range, but may enter the low end of the unhealthy range if the winds are unfavourable.