Indonesia warns against haze in Singapore, Malaysia

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Photo by Azwar/EPA

Indonesia’s disaster agency warned June 25 that haze could return to neighboring Singapore and Malaysia after a huge jump in forest fires in a province at the center of a smog crisis last year. June is the start of the forest fire season – when slash-and-burn techniques are used to clear land quickly and cheaply, often for palm oil plantations – and disaster officials said the number of blazes in Riau province, on western Sumatra island, was rising quickly. A total of 366 “hotspots” – either forest fires or areas likely to soon go up in flames – had been detected in the province on June 25, up from 97 the previous day. Experts have said that an expected El Nino weather phenomenon later this year is likely to fan the forest fires as conditions become drier than usual.

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