Indonesia steps up efforts to end forest fires

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-22 14:33:32|Editor: Xiang Bo
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JAKARTA, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia has stepped up measures to terminate forest fires across the archipelagic nation as the number of hotspots rise significantly.

A total of 21 helicopters and a Cassa 212 planes have been deployed to conduct water bombings and creating artificial rains, spokesman of national disaster management agency Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said on Tuesday.

A satellite image showed on Tuesday that a total of 538 hotspots from west to east of the country with most of them detected in Borneo Island in the central parts of the country and Papua province in eastern of the nation, the spokesman said.

"The number of hotspots are forecast to keep rising at the end of August and September," Sutopo told Xinhua in a text message.

Soldiers, policemen and personnel from disaster management agency as well as volunteers have been taking part in the battle against the fires, he added.

As many as six provinces situated in Sumatra Island and Borneo Island have declared emergency condition over the fires, Sutopo revealed.

In Papua of eastern Indonesia, the fires were allegedly triggered by land clearing activities for opening new plantations, he added.

Lack of water and difficulty in reaching affected areas are among the major challenges to douse the fires, said Sutopo.

Still, the size of forest fire-affected areas has declined to about 20,000 hectares at present, from 438,000 hectares and 2.61 million hectares respectively in 2016 and 2017, the official said.

The spokesman warned people to be alert over a greater potential of expansion of fires next month.

"Dry season will occur until October and the peak of the season is in September, so that the potential for the forest fire to happen will rise. Be alert," said Sutopo.

Indonesia has frequently witnessed forest fires with the biggest one in 2015, causing a huge financial losses and health problems.