TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Visibility in Riau's capital of Pekanbaru was curtailed to 1.5 kilometers (km) on Saturday at 8 a.m. local time owing to smog emanating from forest fires in Pelalawan District, in particular.
The haze arose from Pelalawan where 102 hotspots were recorded in the morning, Nia Fadhila, analyst at the Pekanbaru meteorology, climatology and geophysics station, stated on Saturday.
Pelalawan is located in the south of Pekanbaru, with the wind blowing from southeast to southwest, she explained.
Executive General Manager of SSK II airport Yogi Prasetyo noted that in spite of the haze, operations at the Sultan Syarik Kasim II (SSK II) International Airport in Pekanbaru were normal.
The local residents of Pekanbaru wore face masks while venturing outdoors since the city’s air quality remained at an unhealthy level.
In the meantime, the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) Station in Pekanbaru, Riau Province, confirmed that 584 hotspots representing forest fires were spotted on Sumatra Island on Saturday morning.
Of the total, 272 hotspots were found in Riau, over two-folds as compared to 112 hotspots on Friday afternoon, Nia Fadhila, the Pekanbaru BMKG station's analyst, stated here on Saturday.
Some 128 hotspots were found in Jambi Province, 99 in South Sumatra, 41 in Bangka Belitung, 18 in Lampung, 11 each in West Sumatra and Riau Islands, and four in Bengkulu.
In Riau, 102 hotspots were located in Pelalawan District, 90 in Indragiri Hilir, 35 in Bengkalis, 17 in Indragiri Hulu, nine each in Meranti Islands and Siak, seven in Rokan Hilir, two in Kuansing, and one in Kampar.
Furthermore, 192 of the total 272 hotspots in Riau were believed to be fire spots, with 76 in Pelalawan, 60 in Indragiri Hulu, and 29 in Bengkalis.
In the meantime, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya had confirmed that fires spreading across the land and forest areas in several Indonesian provinces over the past few months had not affected the tourism sector.
Yahya pointed out that foreign tourists continued to trickle into different tourist destinations in the country in spite of the forest fires. "We have yet to receive any report on the impact of land fires on national tourism. Everything is running as usual," he added.