by Tokana Hasavi – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The El Nino phenomenon has been causing massive forest fires in the South Sumatra province of Indonesia.
Malaysia and Singapore helped Indonesian authorities with helicopters and aircrafts to put out fires that have been causing choking haze in the region.
Authorities say Sumatra Island has 156 hotspots and 129 of them are in southern Sumatra.
Chief of Indonesia’s Disaster Management Agency, Willem Rampangilei, said that the challenge was putting out fires below the land surface.
“On fields we still found smoke on the surface of land that we already put it out before and even in fields that are still green, it means fire has spread below the surface. That is the actual condition and we also see that the wind is quite strong and that makes the fire spread to a wider area, that is our challenge to deal with, however we managed to extinguish some hotspots,” Rampangilei said in his command post at Palembang.
The smoke has pushed up pollution to dangerous levels across parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, disrupted flights and closed schools in recent weeks.