Indonesia: Land burned in forest fires surges in 2019 hinh anh 1Haze from forest fires covers Jakarta on September 20 (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The area of land destroyed by forest fires in Indonesia in the first nine months of 2019 has exceeded that during all of 2018, statistics show.

Raffles Panjaitan, forest fire management acting director at the Forestry and Environment Ministry of Indonesia, said on October 21 that by the end of September, a total of 857,756ha of land had been burned, higher than the 529,267ha in 2018.

The area burned surged from over 328,000ha that was devastated by forest fires between January and August, he said, adding that the size of such area is forecast to continue expanding this month, although not as drastic as last month’s.

Fire fighting still continues to prevent escalation, the official noted.

Indonesia has spent months to battle forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo that have caused thick haze which drifted over neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore.

Rain has started falling in some areas on Sumatra which offered some respite, but the rainy season is not expected to fully arrive until around mid-November.

Forest and peat fires, typically taking place in Sumatra and Borneo, are often linked to slash-and-burn practices to clear areas for palm cultivation./.