Smoke in the skies

Thick smog in Riau province of Sumatra has driven more disruption on aviation and trouble in health as it worsened to an alarming condition.

Indonesian Transport Minister E.E. Mangindaan revealed Wednesday that dozens of flight schedules were aborted due to lack of feasibility.

“We persistently monitor and give information about aviation to domestic and overseas routes. The condition has been alarming,” he said at the Transport Ministry.

“Yesterday (Tuesday) 58 flight schedules were canceled,” said Mangindaan.

The visibility in the province has steeply declined to less than 1 km, official has said.

The thickening haze has worsened air quality in the province and risen the number of people suffering from respiratory trouble to staggering 42,000, according to Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of national disaster agency.

As many as 145 hotspots were detected from the NOAA 18 satellite on Tuesday in the province, he said.

Indonesia has scrambled to extinguish blaze in the bush incurred during land clearing for expansion and opening new plantations in Riau province which is home to the world’s largest palm oil industry.

About 2,500 police, soldiers and volunteers have been deployed to stop the fire, Sutopo told Xinhua over phone.

Last June choking haze from fires fueled by unusually dry season in Riau province enveloped neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.

The authorities in the province has declared a state of emergency over haze and arrested 26 people suspected of causing the fire.