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Climate Change

Indonesia battles forest fires as dry season continues

September 14, 2023 4:18 PM IST

Indonesia | Indonesia disaster | dry season | forest fires | wildfire

The world continues to battle forest fires and dry season. After a series of wildfires in Europe, Indonesia is battling forest fire. In the South Sumatra province of Indonesia, firefighters are busy putting out peatland fires in several locations, that started in Tuesday, September 12.

The Indonesian authorities have been dumping large amounts of water to control the fires in the South Sumatra province as haze clouds covered nearby cities.

At least six Indonesian provinces in Sumatra and Borneo were battling forest fires, Indonesian Disaster Agency chief Suharyanto said, adding that further plans were being made for cloud seeding to stop the fires.

Indonesia is expecting its rainy season to start in November, a month later than usual, after what is forecast to be the most severe dry season since 2019 caused by the El Nino weather pattern, the nation’s meteorology agency said on Friday (September 8).

However, this is not uncommon as Indonesia annually faces the problem of forest and peat fires. These also affect relationship with neighbouring countries. Smoke from the fires has blanketed parts of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and southern Thailand with a noxious haze.

There are six provinces in Indonesia where forest and peatland fires are most common, according to the disaster agency. They include South Sumatra province, where a big peatland fire burned for several days in August.

The Southeast Asian nation has previously experienced devastating forest fires in 2015 and 2019 that blanketed the country, and parts of neighbouring countries, with haze. The World Bank estimated the fires cost Indonesia $16 billion, and a Harvard and Columbia study estimated the haze hastened 100,000 deaths in the region.

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