PEKANBARU, Riau: The Terra and Aqua Satellite detected 297 hotspots of forest fires on Sumatra Island on Tuesday morning, a significant increase from 62 the previous day.
Indonesia's ANTARA reported that of the total 297 hotspots, 140 were in North Sumatra, 81 in Riau province, 67 in Aceh Darussalam, three respectively in Riau Islands and West Sumatra, said Bibin Sulianto, an analyst from the Pekanbaru meteorological, climatology and geophysics agency (BMKG).
Sulianto noted that he did not know where the hotspots came from but he was sure that they did not have anything to do with the eruption of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra.
The satellite is more accurate in detecting geothermal than the NOAA-18 satellite, which used to be the reference for the Pekanbaru BMKG.
On Feb 1, the satellite detected 93 hotspots, or areas of intense heat indicative of forest fires in the Riau province.
"The largest number of forest fires has been detected in Bengkalis," Ardhitama of the Pekanbaru Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency pointed out recently.
In the Bengkalis district, 52 hotspots were detected in the plantation, forest and farming areas, he elaborated.
The Pelalawan district had 18 hotspots, while Siak had 16. Indragiri Hilir had four hotspots; Duma had three, while Rokan Hilir had one hotspot.
A number of cities in Riau were covered by haze caused by the fiery hotspots.
Indonesia is hit by forest fires almost every year. Some of the fires have been set deliberately by irresponsible plantation companies hoping to clear the land for plantations or farming activities. This is against the existing laws in Indonesia.
Haze arising from land-clearing fires often degrades the air quality, triggers health problems for some people and reduces visibility in affected areas, in particular, parts of Sumatra and the Kalimantan Islands.
Last year, the Indonesian government declared a state of emergency in the Riau province on June 21, after heavy smog blanketed parts of Sumatra Island, Singapore and Malaysia. - Bernama