Firefighters try to put out a peatland fire in Puding near Jambi on the island of Sumatra on Wednesday. (Antara Photo/Wahdi Septiawan)

Hazed and Confused


SEPTEMBER 17, 2019

Major cities on the islands of Kalimantan and Sumatra – including Palangkaraya, Ogan Ilir, Pekanbaru, Padang, Banjarmasin and Pontianak – have been covered in smoke and haze from forest fires since August.

Firefighters have been joined by Army soldiers to try to put out the fires for more than a month with little result. 

The Meteorology and Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said visibility in Palembang was down to a dangerous 600 meters.

Extreme haze forced closure of schools and local hospitals are inundated by patients with respiratory complaints.

Oxygen "shelters" have been established in Pekanbaru, Riau, to help children suffering from breathing difficulties because of the smoke and haze.

A peatland fire that refused to go out for several days in Banjarbaru, South Kalimantan, also destroyed homes and shops.

The Indonesian government has been criticized for acting less than decisively in containing the fires.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, accompanied by his ministers and other top officials, visited Pekanbaru on Monday to see the fire damage for himself.

A total of 151,862 forest fire spots have been recorded in Indonesia so far this year, the highest ever in history. 

Aerial view during forest fires in North Indralaya, Ogan Ilir, South Sumatera on Friday (13/09). (Antara Photo/Nathan)
Forest fire in North Indralaya near Ogan Ilir, South Sumatera on Friday. (Antara Photo/Nathan)
The Indonesian Army Medical Team provided oxygen assistance to a child who suffering from breathing problems due to smoke haze from the impact of the forest fire at the Kodim 0301 health post in Pekanbaru, Riau on Sunday (15/09). (Antara Photo/Rony Muharrman)
An Army doctor puts on an oxygen mask on a girl suffering from haze-induced breathing problems in Pekanbaru, Riau, on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Rony Muharrman)
Motorist wear masks when crossing the Pangeran Hidayatullah Street which is shrouded in haze at Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan on Thursday (12/09). (Antara Photo/Bayu Pratama S)
Masked motorists cross the Pangeran Hidayatullah Bridge in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Bayu Pratama S.)
Children ran to avoid land fires in Kayu Arehh Village, Kertapati Palembang, South Sumatra on Sunday (18/08). (Antara Photo/Mushaful Imam)
Children run away from a peatland fire in Kayu Areh, a village near Palembang in South Sumatra on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Mushaful Imam)
A motorboat crosses at Martapura River, which is shrouded with smoke haze in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan on Thursday (12/09). (Antara Photo/Bayu Pratama S)
A motorboat crosses a haze-shrouded Martapura River in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, on Thursday. (Antara Photo/Bayu Pratama S.)
Muslim residents perform Istisqa (pray for rain) in front of Riau Governor Office Building in Pekanbaru, Riau on Wednesday (11/09). (Antara Photo/Rony Muharrman)
Muslims perform the "Istisqa" (prayer for rain) on a public square in Pekanbaru, Riau, on Wednesday. (Antara Photo/Rony Muharrman)
Firefighters put out a forest fires in Rimbo Panjang Village, Kampar Regency, Riau on Monday (16/09). (Antara Photo/ Rony Muharrman)
Firefighters put out a fire in Rimbo Panjang, Riau, on Monday. (Antara Photo/Rony Muharrman)
Officers extinguished land fires using MI8 helicopters owned by the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) in Sukarame Village, Pemulutan, Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra on Monday (02/09). (Antara Photo/Mushaful Imam)
An MI8 helicopter belonging to The National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) drops water over a fire in Sukarame, a village near Ogan Ilir in South Sumatra, on Monday. (Antara Photo/Mushaful Imam)
Residents saw peatland fires from behind the window at her home in Pengayuan village, Banjarbaru, South Kalimantan on Saturday (14/09). (Antara Photo/Bayu Pratama S)
A woman inspects the aftermath of a peatland fire from inside her home in Pengayuan, a village in Banjarbaru, South Kalimantan, on Saturday. (Antara Photo/Bayu Pratama S.)
President Joko Widodo walks without wearing a mask during his visits at forest fires area in Pekanbaru, Riau on Tuesday (17/09). (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)
Jokowi inspects the remains of a forest fire in Pekanbaru, Riau, on Tuesday. (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)