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Asean & Global Updates
POSTED | 12:26 PM | 14-09-2015

Indonesia waterbombs forest fires to fight haze

Helicopters on Monday (14 Sept 2015) water-bombed raging forest fires that have cloaked parts of Indonesia in thick haze and pushed air quality to unhealthy levels in neighboring Singapore and Malaysia.

Fourteen helicopters were dumping water on blazes on western Sumatra island and the Indonesian part of Borneo island and “cloudseeding”, which involves using chemicals to induce rain, the country’s disaster agency said. 

Authorities had struggled last week to start such operations as the haze was so thick that it was too dangerous for aircraft to fly, said AFP.

Smog-belching fires are an annual problem during the dry season in Indonesia, where vast tracts of land are cleared using illegal slash-and-burn methods to make way for huge palm oil and pulp and paper plantations. 

The blazes intensified in the past fortnight, sending smog over Sumatra and Borneo that has left tens of thousands ill, forced people to wear face masks and prompted the cancellation of flights and school closures.

Air quality has deteriorated in the citystate of Singapore and Malaysia in recent days, as wind carries the smog from Indonesia. 

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