Indonesia haze reaches cities in Mindanao
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Haze has reached the Davao region since Monday morning, October 19.
Ben Rosales of state weather bureau PAGASA in Davao said monsoon winds blowing northeast from Indonesia carried the smog to Davao and other parts of Mindanao.
The haze from Indonesia's forest fires may have worsened after Typhoon Lando (Koppu) hit the Philippines on Sunday.
The Environmental Management Bureau earlier conducted tests in Visayas and Mindanao to determine the quality of air samples after Cebu and General Santos City reported the occurrence of unusual atmospheric conditions.
It has yet to release its findings.
But local health officials have already issued bulletins for residents to take precautionary actions, especially those with respiratory problems.
Dr. Antonietta Odi, officer in charge at the General Santos City health office, said said in a local TV interview that haze carries ozone and other gas particles which “irritates the nose, throat, airways, the skin and the eyes.”
She said people prone to respiratory and pulmonary infection should limit their outdoor activities and stay indoors as much as possible until an advisory is released that the air in the city is already safe for them.
Instead of dissipating, the haze that was first observed in General Santos City has spread to Iligan and other cities in Mindanao.
Dante Arriola, head of the weather bureau in General Santos City, earlier said the haze caused by the forest fire in Indonesia is visible early morning and late afternoon.
He also said it will continue to prevail over the city in the coming weeks, but could disappear by November.
Visibility, however, continues to be affected by the haze that appears to have worsened since it was first reported the first week of October.
Photographer Jaysan Lawa of Maasim in Sarangani said, “A big hot red ball is visible at 4 in the afternoon with light so diffused you can stare at the sun like a red full moon.”
Journalist Bobby Timonera said the haze was first observed Sunday in Iligan City while photojournalist Rene Lumawag began posting photos last week when the thick haze also began blanketing Davao City.
Morning joggers and early market goers in General Santos also noticed an unusually thick morning fog with the naked eye able to stare at the sun in
The hazy horizon in General Santos went unnoticed late in September until local television station ABS-CBN reported it in its newscast.
The choking smoke, caused by Indonesian slash-and-burn farming, has been a problem in Southeast Asia for weeks. (WATCH: Aerial footage shows devastating damage of forest fires)
The forest fires have affected 10 countries in the ASEAN region, including Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines.
It has also raised alarms in Singapore and Malaysia as smoke delayed flights and raised the pollution levels in these countries.
Last week, Indonesia deployed 32 planes and helicopters to back up 22,000 personnel to fight the fires smothering Southeast Asia – its biggest operation to date. – Editha Caduaya and Edwin Espejo, with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com