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Forest fires in Riau, Indonesia affect 20,000 – Haze drops visibility to 50 meters, emergency declared

At least 20,000 people in Riau province of Indonesia have suffered respiratory problems due to thick smog from the recent forest fires, Xinhua reported.

Satellite has detected some 1,234 hot spots in the forests as of Monday, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) agency said.

Forest fires in Riau Province has reduced the visibility to about only 50 meters.

The thick smog has also caused delay of flights in the Sultan Syarif Kasim airport.

Forest fires have burned four houses and half of a school building in Bukit Batu subdistrict.

Riaus disaster mitigation office has declared a state of emergency in the districts of Pelalawan, Bengkalis, Dumai city, and Meranti islands.

A large-scale air quality disaster caused by continued uncontrolled burning from plantation cultivation in Indonesia hit Singapore and Malaysia in 2013. However, the current haze from the Riau Province in Sumatra won't disperse to Singapore and Malaysia, Antara News reported quoting the local Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG).

Original post: Natural Disasters List February 24, 2014