Riau prepares for land and forest fires this year

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - Riau Governor Syamsuar issued a land and forest fire emergency preparedness status, effective Feb 11-Oct 31, 2020, as wildfires sporadically ravaged certain areas of 10 of the province's 12 districts and cities since early 2020.

The Riau Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) was quoted by ANTARA in Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau Province, on Wednesday, as stating that the land and forest fires have, so far, gutted some 271 hectares of land in the districts of Siak and Bengkalis as well as Dumai City.

Siak District has suffered extensively from this early year's wildfires that ravaged 98.47 hectares of land, while land and forest fires destroyed a total of 60.90 hectares of land in Bengkalis District and 31.85 hectares in Dumai City, the agency revealed.

Last year, the Riau provincial government had also issued a similar status that came into effect from Feb 19 to October. In 2019, some 75,871 hectares of land in total were severely ravaged by the wildfires, or significantly increased in comparison to the conditions in 2017 and 2018.

According to the authorized agencies' reports, Riau suffered from wildfires that gutted 6,866 hectares of land in 2017 and 37,236 hectares of land in 2018.

On Tuesday evening, representatives of related agencies in Riau Province held a meeting in Pekanbaru by taking into account the current situation and condition of dry season and wildfires in several districts and cities in the province.

"The issuance of land and forest fire emergency preparedness status also takes into account the same status that had earlier been announced by the authorities of three districts," Head of the Riau BPBD Edwar Sanger stated.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) noted that the thick haze, arising from wildfires ravaging several districts and cities in Riau last year, had led to at least 275,793 residents in Riau ailing from acute respiratory illness.

In early January 2020, the Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) had detected 15 hotspots in six districts of Riau Province even as residents in the provinces of Jakarta, West Java, and Banten struggle to recover from flooding and landslides.

The hotspots were detected in the districts of Bengkalis, Meranti, Pelalawan, Siak, and Indragiri Hilir as well as Dumai City, according to the agency's analyst for Sultan Syarif Kasim II-Pekanbaru's Meteorology Station, Yasir Prayuna, stated.

In contrast, in December 2019, flash floods and a landslide swamped certain areas of this province, killing six people, according to Sanger.

The landslide buried two victims, while four others died in the flash floods that inundated certain areas in the districts of Rokan Hulu and Kuantan Singingi, he remarked.

The floods inundated the areas of 216 villages in the districts of Rokan Hulu, Kampar, Pelalawan, Kuantan Singingi, Indragiri Hulu, and Rokan Hilir, affecting 8,798 houses, according to Sanger.

Due to the grave nature of such natural disasters, the district governments of Kampar, Rokan Hulu, Pelalawan, and Indragiri Hulu had issued an emergency alert status in response to the threats of floods and landslides until the end of 2019, he remarked.

During the rainy season, certain parts of Riau are prone to flooding and landslides while during the dry season, wildfires continue to recurrently ravage this province.

Source: Antara News

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