TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - A total of 504,000 inhabitants of West Kalimantan, particularly children, suffered from respiratory illness due to the smog from forest fires, according to Inspector General Didi Haryono, head of the West Kalimantan Police. Besides, there were biodiversity and economic losses as many international and domestic flights were cancelled in parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan," he said on Saturday.
Indonesia's economic losses reached Rp220 trillion due to forest fires in six provinces, including West Kalimantan, he added.
In West Kalimantan, which has vast plantation area, irresponsible people cleared land for plantation by setting them on fire.
The number of hotspots in West Kalimantan in August 2019 reached 7,655. The number increased to 15,767 from September 1 to 23, with Ketapang District having the largest number of hotspots, namely 8,652.
On September 24 and 25, rains fell in West Kalimantan, reducing the number of hotspots to 34, he added.
The number of hotspots in the province this year was twice those in 2015, but the impact was not as bad as those in 2015, West Kalimantan Governor Sutarmidji said.
In 2015, forest fires that blanketed South-east Asia in thick haze released the greatest amount of climate-changing carbon since record blazes in 1997, according to scientists.
The wildfires and resulting haze increased pollution levels, caused schools to close, flights to be disrupted and people to fall sick.
The 2015 forest fires were among the worst for years with the El Nino natural phenomenon causing a drier-than-usual dry season.