Wildfires – Indonesia – Smoke Pollution

Indonesia has sent nearly 21,000 personnel to fight forest fires raging in its northern islands, the disaster management agency said on Tuesday, but smoke cloaks much of the region with pollution readings in the “very unhealthy” region in neighbouring Singapore.

Slash-and-burn agriculture has blanketed Singapore, Malaysia and northern Indonesia in a choking “haze” for weeks, pushing up pollution levels and disrupting flights, as it does every year. Indonesia’s efforts to halt the seasonal clearances have failed.

More than 135,000 Indonesians were reported to be suffering from respiratory diseases, the disaster agency said in a statement.

Schools in parts of Malaysia were ordered closed for a second day on Tuesday and Singaporean commuters were wearing masks as they have for much of the last two weeks.

Indonesia has faced criticism for turning down offers of help from Singapore, even as it struggles to contain fires that have been exacerbated by a prolonged dry season.

Air quality index site AQICN.org’s real-time map for Indonesia and surrounding jurisdictions for Sept. 29 at about 7 p.m. CT. The site categorizes readings between 201 to 300 as “very unhealthy” and greater than 300 as “hazardous.” (AQICN.org)

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