Close to 1,000 hotspots detected in Sumatra as haze thickens causing high PSI range

982 hotspots detected today in Sumatra is the highest number in two months. But Jakarta is yet to declare a National Emergency.

Satellite images showed most of the hotspots, suspected to be caused by forest fires, were in the provinces of South Sumatra, Jambi and Riau.

Air quality in the three provinces has reached hazardous levels which means the Pollutants Standard Index is above PSI-301.

The very high levels of pollutants has forced schools and airports to close. The seriousness of the situation has also prompted health experts to urge authorities to evacuate residents from affected areas.

Smoke from the forests fires has affected neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, blanketing parts of both countries in haze in recent days, with air quality reaching to unhealthy levels of more than PSI-101.

The Indonesian central government has yet to declare the situation in Sumatra a national disaster, which would then trigger a massive mobilisation of personnel and resources from Jakarta to tackle the forest fires.

Currently, Jakarta has set up a task force to tackle the situation and has also deployed more than 1,000 soldiers to south Sumatra to help extinguish the fires.

Several provinces in Kalimantan are also experiencing forest fires and just like Sumatra, most of the fires were found to be on plantation land.

More than 70 people have been so far been arrested on suspicion of burning their land. However, only one was reported to be from a plantation company despite authorities claiming that such companies were the main culprits for starting the fires.