Air quality in most parts of Indonesia was improved Tuesday with further rain forecast on Wednesday.
Detectives in Central Kalimantan continued their investigation on Tuesday into a fire at the finance department of the provincial government.
Plantation firm PT Bumi Mekar Hijau, a supplier of Asia Pulp & Paper, was due at a hearing on Tuesday to answer charges of culpability over fires on its concessions in Ogan Komering Ilir regency.
Air pollution in most parts of Indonesia remained within moderate levels on Tuesday as the archipelago’s meteorology agency forecast rain for the next two days.
“Thank God this morning’s haze has improved after the few days of rain,” said Ferdiansyah, a resident of Indralaya in South Sumatra. “Hopefully in the future the people of Indralaya can get out and play sport and take healthy exercise.”
The head of the health department of the Riau provincial government said 97,509 people in the Sumatran province had been diagnosed with illnesses since the crisis began. The majority, 81,836, suffered acute respiratory infections while 1,307 were diagnosed with potentially fatal pneumonia. Doctors have diagnosed 3,753 patients with asthma, the health agency said. A few thousand patients were diagnosed with less-serious conditions, such as eye irritation.
Some areas of Indonesia continued to weather unhealthy air, with residents in Muara Teweh in Central Kalimantan reporting thick haze on Tuesday morning after clearer conditions on Monday.
“The haze came back on Tuesday morning to cover this area, but yesterday it had disappeared because of the rain,” one resident told the state-run news agency, Antara.
The head of the local Muara Teweh meteorology agency said visibility in the city had declined to 500 meters.
In Java, Indonesia’s disaster management agency said a group of volunteers had successfully extinguished a fire in Boyolali regency, Central Java province. Disaster management staff and volunteers successfully evacuated 200 hikers after a fire started near an established trekking route, the agency said. Four men died on Friday after attempting to put out a fire in East Java.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visited Central Kalimantan over the weekend to monitor progress in blocking canals dug to drain water from peatland.
The head of the provincial office of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), a pressure group, told Jokowi the government needed to accelerate and strengthen plans to deal with drainage canals. Canals have been used by companies for years to drain water from peat to enable seedlings to grow.
“Blocking these canals is what is required – not sealing them,” Arie Rompas said.
Detectives in Central Kalimantan continued their investigation on Tuesday into a fire at the finance department of the provincial government. Police would say only that “important” documents had been destroyed in the fire, which started at around 2 pm. on Sunday.
The head of the provincial government’s natural resources administration office, Lubis Rada Inin, told Indonesian newspaper Kompas that copies of destroyed files were held elsewhere, such as the regional investment board.
“Administration and the work by employees will continue,” Lubis said.
Kompas reported that 51 employees from the finance department have been housed temporarily in the offices of the regional planning board. The newspaper reported they had no computers or office stationary. The chief of police in Palangkaraya, the provincial capital, said fire investigation officers would need two to three weeks to know whether the fire was a deliberate act.
Some 270 individuals and companies have been named suspects in connection with the fires.
Plantation firm PT Bumi Mekar Hijau, a unit of Asia Pulp & Paper, was due at a hearing on Tuesday to answer charges of culpability over fires spanning 20,000 hectares on its concessions in Ogan Komering Ilir regency in 2014. Prosecutors are seeking a record Rp 7.8 trillion ($574 million) from the company.
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