Indonesia: Over 39,000 people affected by haze smoke hinh anh 1Firefighters attempt to extinguish forest fires in Kampar, Riau province, Indonesia on August 14, 2019 (Photo: Xinhua/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA)
– As many as 39,277 residents in Riau province in Sumatra Island, Indonesia, have suffered from respiratory problems due to the escalating smoke haze caused by forest fires, according to head of the provincial Health Office Mimi Nazir.

Nazir said on September 12 that the figure was significantly higher than in July and August recorded at 27,563 and 29,236, respectively.

Public medical centres in the province have been transformed into facilities to serve those exposed by smoke haze, she said, adding that residents affected by smoke haze will get free medical examinations.

According to Riau Deputy Governor Edy Natar Nasution, local schools have been closed since last week, and the provincial administration has also distributed free masks for residents in areas affected by the smoke haze.

Air quality in most of the province's regions on September 12 has been declared in hazardous status due to the intense smoke haze. The air pollution index, locally abbreviated as ISPU, has averagely reached an alarming level of 300, far higher than the adequate level of 100.

Riau province has the largest forest fire-affected areas at 49,266 hectares from a total of 328,724 hectares detected across the country from January to August this year, according to Indonesia National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB).

Other provinces affected by the forest fire are East Nusa Tenggara, Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and South Sumatra./.