Posts Tagged ‘wildfires’

U.S. Trying to Find More Doctors to Send to Disaster Areas

October 14, 2017

Hurricane Maria left Puerto Rico’s hospitals in bad shape

Volunteer doctors organize medical supplies during a visit to a shelter to check refugees in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 2.
Volunteer doctors organize medical supplies during a visit to a shelter to check refugees in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 2. PHOTO: RICARDO ARDUENGO/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

A U.S. government program that sends doctors and nurses to disaster zones says it needs more health-care workers, as relief efforts during this hurricane season are near the end of a second month with no end in sight in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The National Disaster Medical System, which recently wrapped up big deployments to hurricane-ravaged areas in Texas and Florida, says it will start recruiting more medical professionals in the next few weeks.

“We’re far from the recovery stage of this event,” Robert Kadlec, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary, said Thursday of Hurricane Maria’s devastation. The storm largely destroyed Puerto Rico’s power grid, leaving half the local hospitals without power, and downed its communications network. The federal health agency oversees the program that temporarily hires health-care workers for what are typically two-week rotations.

The U.S. teams, which set up temporary hospitals and clinics, are helping relieve the strain on Puerto Rican hospitals. Nearly half of the local hospitals are depending on sometimes unreliable generators for power. Generator failures have forced recent evacuations at two hospitals. And others suffered storm damage that crippled operations, said Jaime Pla Cortes, executive president of the Puerto Rico Hospital Association, in an interview.

“Everybody has to improvise,” Mr. Pla Cortes said. “The nurses and the doctors are tired, they are working full time.”

The National Disaster Medical System entered the hurricane season understaffed, system director Ron Miller said, adding that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management recently authorized expedited hiring.

Since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in late August, the federal system has deployed more than 40 36-person teams to Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, plus several smaller teams, including some with logistics personnel, veterinarians and morticians. The system has also dispatched one team to California in response to the state’s wildfires.

The prolonged response is a “huge anomaly” for the system, Mr. Miller said. Two-week rotations have occasionally stretched into a month, he said.

The program has enough teams to deploy through mid-November, he said. The U.S. program set up a temporary hospital in San Juan and dispatched teams to hubs around Puerto Rico, Dr. Kadlec said.

To fill open positions, the system has relied on medical staff from the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs, the latter of which has 73 staffers helping in Manati, Puerto Rico.

Other American health-care workers are traveling to Puerto Rico as volunteers, coordinating efforts with HHS. About 80 nurses and doctors from New York-area hospitals flew to Puerto Rico Thursday.

Demand for volunteers is strong, said Jenna Mandel-Ricci, an executive with the Greater New York Hospital Association, which helped organize the trip with HHS and New York state officials. The federal agency “is saying they are taxed,” and volunteers left without knowing where they would be working during a two-week stay, she said. “That’s how fluid things are on the ground.”

Write to Melanie Evans at Melanie.Evans@wsj.com

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Portugal is likely to see more massive forest fires

June 19, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Laurence COUSTAL | Heat waves have become more frequent in Portugal, say experts

PARIS (AFP) – Highly exposed to global warming’s climate-altering impacts, Portugal is likely to see more massive forest fires such as the one — still raging — that has killed at least 60 people this weekend, experts say.- Why Portugal, why now? –

The Iberian peninsula encompassing Portugal and Spain is experiencing a warmer, drier June than usual, explains Thomas Curt, a researcher at France’s Irstea climate and agriculture research institute.

Added to that, the country has vast expanses of highly inflammable plants, including forests of pine and eucalyptus trees.

“Hotter air is synonymous with drier and more inflammable vegetation,” said Curt. “The more the mercury climbs, so does the risk of fires and their intensity.”

Temperatures in the region have warmed by more than the global average over the past half century, according to a 2014 review of climate change impacts on Portugal.

Heat waves have become more frequent, and annual rainfall slightly less, said the review published in the journal WIREs Climate Change.

More frequent and pronounced heat waves are expected in future, accompanied by a “substantial increase” in fire risk — “both in severity and in length of the fire season,” it said.

– Does global warming boost forest fire risk? –

“It is certain — we are experiencing a rise in temperatures,” said Curt.

The Northern hemisphere summer has lengthened over the past 50 years from July-to-August, to June-to-October now — meaning a longer fire risk season.

There has been an increase in major fires of more than 100 hectares, and so-called “megafires” of more than 1,000 hectares, the researcher added.

“It is truly a growing problem everywhere in the world, and notably in Mediterranean Europe.”

These mega blazes remain rare — only about 2-3 percent of all fires — but are responsible for about three-quarters of all surface burnt.

“Many analyses of climate change show that these major fires will become more and more likely,” said Curt.

– What to do? –

In the short term, reinforce firefighting capacity, deploy patrols, set up watchtowers to raise the alarm, and ban fire-making everywhere.

Over the longer term, human settlements and green areas will need to be substantially redesigned, experts say.

Some forest will have to be cut back, undergrowth cleared, and residential areas moved further from scrubland and forest borders, to reduce the risk to life and property.

“The focus of efforts should shift from combating forest fires as they arise to preventing them from existing, through responsible long-term forest management,” green group WWF said.

“Responsible forest management is more effective and financially more efficient than financing the giant firefighting mechanisms that are employed every year.”

In the yet longer term, added Curt, “of course, we need to curtail global warming itself.”

by Laurence COUSTAL

Deadly wildfires around the world

June 18, 2017

AFP

© AFP | One of Australia’s worst wildfires killed around 173 people in 2009

PARIS (AFP) – Portuguese firefighters kept up the battle Sunday after one of the worst wildfire disasters in recent history killed at least 62 people.Here is a rundown of some of the deadliest wildfires around the world over the past two centuries.

– Australia –

In February 2009, at least 173 people die in brush fires in the south east, notably in the state of Victoria where entire towns and more than 2,000 houses are destroyed. The fires lasts several weeks before being contained by thousands of firemen and volunteers. It is one of the worst fires ever recorded in Australia.

– China –

In May 1987, the deadliest forest fire in recent Chinese history kills 119 in the northeast of the country, injuring 102 and leaving 51,000 homeless.

– France –

In August 1949, in the southwest Landes region, 82 rescue workers are killed. The victims — firemen, volunteers and soldiers — are caught in a ball of fire after the winds suddenly changed direction.

– Greece –

In 2007, 77 people die at the end of August in unprecedented forest fires that ravaged 250,000 hectares (2,500 square kilometres) in the southern Peloponnese and the island of Evia, northeast of Athens. The fires are the worst recorded in Greece in recent years.

– Portugal –

In June 2017, a fire roars through Portugal’s central Leiria region, killing at least 62 people and injuring over 50 more.

In 1966, a fire in the forest of Sintra, west of Lisbon, kills 25 soldiers fighting the blaze.

– Russia –

Around 60 people die between July and August 2010 as fires rage in over a million hectares of forest, bogs and brushwood, burning entire villages in the western part of the country during an unprecedented heatwave and drought.

– United States –

Likely the country’s deadliest, a wildfire struck Peshtigo, Wisconsin in October 1871, killing between 800 and 1,200 people. The fire had been burning for several days before it ripped into the forested village with a population of 1,700, destroying it in a matter of hours. It also damaged 16 other villages and destroyed 500,000 hectares of land.

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Hundreds flee wildfires near Jerusalem

November 25, 2016

AFP

© AFP/File | Israeli authorities evacuated 60,000 people from Haifa because of a spate of wildfires

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Hundreds of people were evacuated from an Israeli village near Jerusalem overnight, police said Friday, as firefighters battled wildfires that have forced tens of thousands to flee around the country.

The evacuations in Beit Meir, a cooperative village of religious Jews, came after 60,000 people in Israel’s third-largest city Haifa were moved to safety on Thursday because of a spate of fires.

“All the Beit Meir area has been evacuated — several hundred people, maybe 400,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

Rosenfeld said that a suspect had been arrested in connection with the blaze, but did not elaborate.

Police have arrested a number of people in connection with the fires across the country.

Some are suspected of criminal negligence leading to accidental fires in tinder-dry woodland and undergrowth, while there are also suspicions that some may have been deliberate and related to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Police on Friday morning reported the outbreak of a new fire near the southern town of Kiryat Gat.

In the north, thousands of residents of the mixed Jewish-Arab coastal city of Haifa spent the night in temporary accommodation.

The Haifa fires were “under control” on Friday morning, Rosenfeld said, but he cautioned that “things can change and develop as we speak.”

Firefighters and rescue services say strong and changeable winds make developments hard to predict.

“At the moment, (Haifa) residents who were evacuated from their homes are not allowed to go back,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.

Entire neighbourhoods of the port city have been evacuated, along with Haifa University and local prisons.

Meteorologists say a long dry summer and so-far rainless autumn have brought about ideal conditions for fires to spread — whether sparked by accident or on purpose.

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Bushfires rage on in Israel, Haifa blaze overcome

November 25, 2016

The Associated Press and AFP

© Ahmad Gharabli, AFP | An Israeli firefighter inspects the damages in Beit Meir, a religious cooperative village in the hills to the west of Jerusalem, on November 25, 2016

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2016-11-25

Israeli firefighters on Friday reined in a blaze in the country’s third-largest city of Haifa that had forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, but continued to battle more than a dozen other fires around the country.

Some 60,000 have yet to return to their homes as police forces and firefighting units were still heavily deployed in the Haifa area for fear that the fire could be reignited due to the rare dry, windy weather.

Though no serious injuries were caused, several dozen people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Hundreds of homes were damaged and in a rare move, Israel on Thursday called up military reservists to join overstretched police and firefighters and made use of an international fleet of firefighting aircraft sent by several countries.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a small village in the forests near Jerusalem was evacuated overnight as several homes there caught fire.

Overall, he said 12 people have been arrested across Israel on suspicion of arson. The country’s leaders have raised the possibility that Arab assailants had intentionally set the blazes.

Israel has been on edge during more than a year of Palestinian attacks – mostly stabbings – that have tapered off but not completely halted in recent months.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Palestinian incitement for fueling those attacks. Israel’s police chief Roni Alsheich told reporters on Thursday that early indications on the fires pointed toward a series of “politically motivated” arson attacks.

The fires began three days ago at the Neve Shalom community near Jerusalem where Israelis and Arabs live together. Later, blazes erupted in the northern Israeli area of Zichron Yaakov and elsewhere near Jerusalem before the largest ones spread across Haifa.

The rash of fires is the worst since 2010, when Israel suffered the single deadliest wildfire in its history. That blaze burned out of control for four days, killed 42 people and was extinguished only after firefighting aircraft arrived from as far away as the United States.

Israel has strengthened its firefighting capabilities since then, buying special planes that can drop large quantities of water on affected areas.

Several countries, including Russia, France, Cyprus, Turkey, Croatia, Greece and Italy were also sending assistance to battle this week’s blazes. In a rare gesture, the Palestinians also offered to send firefighting teams to help combat the flames.

France Sending Planes to Help Israel Fight Fires

November 24, 2016

NOV. 24, 2016

JERUSALEM — The Latest on the wildfires in Israel (all times local):

8 p.m.

France says it is sending firefighting planes to Israel to help battle a series of wildfires across the country.

The French presidency said Thursday that President Francois Hollande had instructed his interior minister to dispatch three aircraft.

It says the planes will depart “as soon as possible.” They will join a multinational firefighting effort that has also included assistance from Russia, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and Croatia.

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7:45 p.m.

The Palestinian Authority has offered Israel assistance in combatting raging wildfires across the country.

The offer comes as Israeli leaders are implying that Arab arsonists are behind some of the fires.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA said Thursday that the Palestinians offered teams of firefighters to help join an international effort to extinguish the fires.

Yousef Nassar, the director general of the Palestinian Civil Defense, said the offer was “a humanitarian message.” The Palestinians assisted Israel during a deadly wildfire in 2010.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said some of the fires roaring around the country were the result of “terror,” an apparent reference to Arab or Palestinian assailants.

Some 50,000 people have been evacuated from Israel’s third-largest city Haifa, the site of the largest fires.

___

7 p.m.

Israel’s prime minister is blaming “arsonists’ terror” for some of the fires raging across the country.

Speaking to reporters Thursday in Haifa, where the largest of several wildfires around the country has prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, Benjamin Netanyahu said those setting the fires would be “punished severely.”

Netanyahu did not elaborate on the identity of the suspected arsonists or their motives, but Israeli officials typically use “terror” to refer to Arab or Palestinian militant activity.

Earlier, Israel’s police chief said arrests have been made, without elaborating.

Some 50,000 people have been evacuated from Haifa, Israel’s third largest city. Fires have been sparked around the country for several days, with dry, windy weather spreading the flames quickly.

___

10:30 a.m.

Israeli police have arrested four Palestinians in connection with one of several large fires that damaged homes and prompted the evacuation of thousands of people over the past few days.

Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Thursday that police are investigating all possible causes, including arson. Windy and hot weather have helped fan the flames.

He says the blazes started three days ago at the Neve Shalom community near Jerusalem where Israelis and Arabs live together.

Later, fires erupted in the northern Israeli area of Zichron Yaakov and elsewhere near Jerusalem. In all, hundreds of homes have been damaged and thousands of people have been evacuated. About a dozen were treated for smoke inhalation.

Cyprus, Russia, Italy and other countries are assisting the Israeli firefighters with equipment as the fires continue.

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BBC News

Tens of thousands of people are being evacuated as wildfires rage through parts of Israel’s third largest city of Haifa.

The fires follow a two-month drought and are being fanned by strong winds in the north of the city.

Wildfires are also threatening homes near Jerusalem and in the West Bank.

Israel’s police chief said arson was suspected in some cases and PM Benjamin Netanyahu said any such attacks would amount to “terror”.

“Every fire that was the result of arson or incitement to arson is terror in every way and we’ll treat it as such,” he was quoted by Haaretz newspaper as saying.

“Anyone who tries to burn parts of the state of Israel will be severely punished.”

Police chief Roni Alsheich said that if fires had been started deliberately it was “safe to assume… it is politically-motivated”.

In pictures: Israeli wildfires

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing religious Jewish Home party, also appeared to suggest Arab or Palestinian involvement in the fires, writing on Twitter: “Only those to whom the country does not belong are capable of burning it.”

On social media, the Arabic-language hashtag #Israel_on_fire began trending, with most tweets expressing pleasure over the outbreak.

Residents flee fire in HaifaImage copyrightAP
Image captionHuge flames roared between apartment blocks as residents fled

Four Palestinians have been arrested in connection with a fire near Jerusalem and are due to appear in court, officials said.

The Palestinian Authority has offered to help Israel’s fire department, a senior Israeli security official told the BBC, but has not yet received a reply.

Meanwhile, hundreds of military reservists have been called up to help battle the three-day outbreak of fires.

Map showing Haifa

In Haifa, about 50,000 of the city’s residents had left their homes, the city council said, and several neighbourhoods will be without electricity overnight.

People loaded up supermarket trolleys with belongings, while schools, kindergartens, universities and an old people’s hospital were evacuated.

More than 130 people have been taken to hospital with minor injuries, mainly from smoke inhalation, but most were later discharged, Haaretz reported.

Two prisons near Haifa have also been evacuated.

Further south, Highway 443 – which links Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, crossing through the West Bank – was closed to morning traffic on Thursday as another blaze reached the city of Modi’in.

Homes and cars were damaged, and 300 students were evacuated from a school in Talmon, an Israel settlement in the occupied West Bank, police said.

Car passing fire in HaifaImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionMonths of dry weather have left the country vulnerable to fires

Firefighters have been battling fires in several locations since Tuesday and forecasters are warning that the dry conditions and strong winds are likely to continue until early next week.

Several countries – including Cyprus, Russia, Italy, Croatia and Greece – have sent help and equipment, including aircraft, to help tackle the blazes.

Mr Netanyahu said officials were also contacting the US company which operates a huge firefighting plane known as the “Supertanker”.

In 2010, 42 people died in a fire on Mount Carmel, just south of Haifa.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38088651

Israel: Fires Prompt Call Up of Military Reservists, Evacuates Thousands of People, Seeks International Help As Several Wildfires Erupt Across the Country

November 24, 2016

HAIFA, Israel — Israel has ordered the evacuation of thousands of people and called up hundreds of military reservists to battle a spreading fire in the northern city of Haifa.

Police said at least eight neighborhoods had been evacuated by early afternoon, as smoke spread over the city. At least 17 people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation.

Police and firefighters were deployed throughout the city, as people loaded up supermarket carts with belongings and fled their homes. Some people connected hoses together from apartment buildings to help battle the fires, while residents covered their faces in cloths.

The Haifa fire is the largest of several blazes to erupt across the country over the past two days. The fires have quickly spread due to dry weather and heavy winds.

*******************************

JERUSALEM — Wildfires raged through central and northern Israel for a third day on Thursday, devouring forests, damaging homes and prompting the evacuation of thousands of people.

Israeli officials said the fires had been fanned by unusually strong winds and made worse by a dry atmosphere, but they also said they suspected that many of them had been caused by arson and negligence. Dozens of people have been lightly affected by smoke inhalation, but no serious injuries or fatalities have been reported.

Read the rest: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/24/world/middleeast/israel-fires.html?&moduleDetail=section-news-0&action=click&contentCollection=Middle%20East&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&version=WhatsNext&contentID=WhatsNext&pgtype=article

Haze and smoke crisis could persist into new year, say experts — Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore all impacted

October 20, 2015

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Indonesia smoke — Smoke rising from fires burning at a concession area in Pelalawan, Riau province

The fires raging in forests and peatland across Indonesia, which produce the thick haze that has spread across South-east Asia in recent weeks, are unlikely to be put out in the next month or two.

This means the crisis could persist into the new year, experts said, as the latest reports show hot spots emerging in 18 provinces in the archipelagic state in the past few days.

“Maybe it will last until December and January,” Dr Herry Purnomo of the Centre for International Forestry Research said in a Reuters report yesterday. He added that there were also hot spots in Papua, a region usually spared such fires, because “people are opening new agriculture areas, like palm oil”.

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo inspects a peatland clearing that was engulfed by fire during an inspection of a firefighting operation to control agricultural and forest fires in Banjar Baru in Southern Kalimantan province on Borneo island on Sept 23, 2015. AFP photo

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry yesterday said it was still investigating the cause of the fires in Papua. But its director-general of law enforcement, Mr Rasio Ridho Sani, said this year’s fires have reached an unprecedented level.

“We have never imagined we would ever see those lines of hot spots in Sulawesi and Papua,” he told reporters, pointing to a hot- spot map during the briefing.

The smouldering haze from the fires has spread across many parts of Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Malaysia’s Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar was quoted in an Agence France-Presse report as saying that he expects the crisis to continue for another month. “Unless there is rain, there is no way human intervention can put out the fires.”

Indonesian national disaster management agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho told The Straits Times: “Rain will start in December. It is impossible that we will still have the haze problem in January.”

Meanwhile, three cities on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao were also covered by thick smoke. Weather forecaster Gerry Pedrico told the  that the haze had been covering the cities of Davao, Cagayan de Oro and General Santos since last Saturday.

The end of Indonesia’s annual dry spell in October is usually marked by the start of the rainy season.

But the dry weather in Indonesia this year has been exacerbated by an extended El Nino season. This has made it harder to put out the fires, despite multinational firefighting operations in South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan – two of the worst-hit provinces in Indonesia.

Yesterday, a state of emergency was declared in North Sulawesi, which opened the doors for Jakarta to help contain the fires there.

Indonesian soldier watches as a helicopter water bomber releases its cargo over a peatland fire in Kampar, Riau, Sumatra

A water bomber that can carry 4,300 litres of water was being prepared for deployment in the province, one of the latest to be hit by fires, said Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar.

Her ministry yesterday also revoked the licences of two plantation companies and suspended four firms for allegedly using fire to clear land. It also ordered another four companies to procure adequate equipment to prevent and douse fires on their concessions.

Mr Tri Budiarto, who is in charge of emergency response at BNPB, said the forecast from Indonesia’s meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency indicates that in about a week, areas south of the Equator, which include South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan, should see rainfall.

“If this proves to be true later, God willing, our firefighting operations would get a lift,” he said.

The haze crisis seems to be showing no signs of abating, but the Joko Widodo government is doing all it can to resolve the fires, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said in Singapore yesterday.

Mr Luhut, who was speaking at the RSIS-Brookings-KADIN Distinguished Public Lecture, said on the sidelines of the event that two Russian-made Beriev Be-200 water bombers will be deployed today in South Sumatra’s Ogan Komering Ilir regency.

A general view of the causeway from Singapore to Johor Bahru (background) is obscured by haze on June 21, 2013. (AFP Photo) Many in Singapore say this year’s smoke is getting just this bad.

He will also be heading to areas badly hit by forest fires in South Sumatra today. “I will be there to see the progress of the firefighting operations and also get a briefing on the effectiveness of water bombing,” he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2015, with the headline ‘Haze crisis could persist into new year, say experts’.
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A Doctor in Singapore told peace and freedom today that “the smoke and haze is now harmful to millions of lives.”
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Indonesia fires can’t be put out, Malaysian minister warns

October 19, 2015

AFP

Monday, October 19, 2015

Facing growing pressure, Indonesia earlier this month agreed to accept international help after failing for weeks to douse the fires from slash-and-burn farming that have shrouded angry neighbours Malaysia and Singapore in smoke for weeks

International efforts to douse raging Indonesia fires will fail and Southeast Asia could face several more weeks of choking smoke until the rainy season starts, Malaysia’s environment minister warned on Monday.
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Facing growing pressure, Indonesia earlier this month agreed to accept international help after failing for weeks to douse the fires from slash-and-burn farming that have shrouded angry neighbours Malaysia and Singapore in smoke for weeks.
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But Malaysia was forced once again to close schools in several areas Monday due to unhealthy air, and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the crisis could continue for another month.
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“Unless there is rain, there is no way human intervention can put out the fires,” he told AFP on the sidelines of Malaysia’s parliament session, warning that the blazes were spread across “huge areas” of Indonesia.
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Even the multi-nation effort now under way “is not enough to put out the fires,” he added.
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“We hope the rains will come in mid-November. It will be able to put out the fires,” Wan Junaidi said.
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On Friday, Indonesia launched its biggest fire-fighting assault yet, with dozens of planes and thousands of troops battling the illegally started agricultural and forest fires in its territory on the huge islands of Sumatra and Borneo.
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Thirty-two planes and helicopters — including six aircraft from Singapore, Malaysia and Australia — were deployed to back up more than 22,000 personnel on the ground.
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The fires and resulting region-wide haze are an annual dry-season problem, but experts warn the current outbreak is on track to become the worst ever, exacerbated by tinder-dry conditions from the El Nino weather phenomenon.
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The acrid air has sparked health alerts, sent thousands to hospitals for respiratory problems, and caused the cancellation of scores of flights and some major international events across the region.
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Indonesian National Disaster Management Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho also offered sobering comments Monday, saying the fires were “yet to be overcome.”
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Sutopo said satellite data indicated Indonesia now had more than 1,500 “hotspots”, which are loosely defined as areas where fires are either burning or where conditions are ripe for blazes to break out.
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“The actual number is higher as the satellite is not able to penetrate the thickness of the haze in Sumatra and (Borneo),” he added.
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Malaysia enjoyed a brief spell of lowered haze last week, but the government — which has repeatedly ordered school closures across wide areas as a health precaution — did so again on Monday as skies once again reverted to the now-familiar soupy gray.
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Schools were closed in several states and in the capital Kuala Lumpur as pollution levels climbed well into the “unhealthy” range under the government’s rating system.
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Air quality in Singapore, however, improved Monday after entering “unhealthy” levels over the weekend.
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Haze from Indonesia blankets Mindanao cities

October 19, 2015

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BLOCKING the sun and the usual clear blue sky, a thick haze, believed to be caused by the wildfires in Indonesia, blankets Davao City since last week. Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration Davao Region said Typhoon “Lando’s” movement contributed to this phenomena. KARLOS MANLUPIG/INQUIRER MINDANAO

DAVAO CITY—A thick haze believed caused by forest fires in Indonesia, now blankets the skies in this city and some parts of Mindanao.

Gerry Pedrico of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration in Southern Mindanao told the Inquirer that the station in Davao region had been monitoring the haze in the past few days.

Related on October 23, 2015:

“We were able to see the haze over Davao City since Saturday (Oct. 17),” Pedrico said.

Pedrico explained that haze is usually formed by the accumulation of smoke and particles like dust in the air.

He added that the ongoing atmospheric phenomena in the region was caused by smoke from the wildfires in Sumatra, Indonesia, that started to spread last month.

Typhoon “Lando” (international name: Koppu), which is battering Luzon, contributed to the phenomena, he said.

Residents, however, need not worry about health risks that the haze could bring, he said.

“The smoke is actually up in the sky and there will be no health risks. There is no reason to be alarmed,” Pedrico explained.

The same phenomena is experienced in General Santos City, Cagayan de Oro City and nearby towns.

Pedrico said they could not say precisely when the haze would clear out and give way to the normal blue skies.

“We really do not now but it will also go away,” Pedrico said. Karlos Manlupig, Inquirer Mindanao

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/732736/haze-from-indonesia-blankets-mindanao-cities#ixzz3p2ToRyyU
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