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Indonesia declares emergency as forest fires rage in Sumatra, Kalimantan

JAKARTA: Indonesia has declared emergency as forest fires raging in six provinces on the island of Sumatra and in the province Kalimantan on Borneo Island. Thousands of military and police personnel were deployed to extinguish it.

The number of hot spots in the country as of July 31 has increased, with 124 ‘intense’ fires detected, according to National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo.

He added that the government has declared an emergency in the provinces of Riau, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Jambi, South Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan, where extensive peatlands are particularly prone to fires.

5,679 additional personnel to five of the provinces, drawn from the military, police and the regional disaster mitigation agency were brought by the authorities.

Aircrafts that can run water bombing operations are also being deployed.

Agus also added that disaster authorities have made available 17 helicopters, with 10 more pressed in from private firms, the military and the forestry ministry in Riau.

While the government plans to make artificial rain to put out the fires. Nearly 50 million of Indonesia’s population of 260 million face drought in 28 of its 34 provinces, according to Dody Usodo Hargo Suseno, an official of the coordinating ministry for human development.

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