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Singapore Faces Worst Haze in Four Years

7 years ago266 views

A thick cloud of smoky haze enveloped Singapore on Friday morning creating the worst air pollution in the city-state since 2006.

Indonesia’s forestry ministry said the haze might have been caused by fires lit to clear land illegally in Riau Province on Sumatra Island.

[Noor Hidayat, Indonesia Forestry Ministry]: (Bahasa Indonesia, male)
"We have deployed forest fire brigades to extinguish the fires, local security authorities and the local forestry ministry are involved, as well as industries near the hotspots."

Indonesia has had a long history of weak forestry enforcement, and illegal land clearing by palm oil developers is not uncommon.

Fires clear land quickly and reduce the acidity of peatland soil, but release vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the air.

[Noor Hidayat, Indonesia Forestry Ministry]: (Bahasa Indonesia, male)
"We have done our best to minimize forest fires in those areas. But the law enforcement is weak. I think law enforcement authorities must work harder and be tougher on people who do this. Shock therapy is needed here."

Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo phoned his Indonesian counterpart on Friday to express concern about the worsening haze situation. Yeo also said Singapore is ready to help Jakarta put out some of the fires in Sumatra if needed.

Singapore's residents could see and feel the thick smoke, many of them deciding to stay indoors.

[Jaime Chan, Singapore Resident]: (English)
"Health-wise, I'm quite fine, I don't have asthma and things like that so it doesn't really bother me that much, but maybe it is more for my son, I don't know how it is affecting a younger child, hence we avoid going into the outside areas."

As a precaution, some organizations have postponed outdoor events.

The S-League, Singapore's soccer league, delayed the championship decider in which French team, Etoile (eh-twal) FC is contending for the title.