Indonesia: schools closed due to smoke from forest fires hinh anh 1Forest fire in Riau, Indonesia (Photo: AFP) 
Hanoi (VNA) – Many schools on Indonesia’s Borneo and Sumatra islands on September 16 were closed due to choking smoke from forest fires while the country has recorded thousands of respiratory infection cases.

According to authorities, schools in two cities in Central Kalimantan have been closed this week due to concerns over the pollution, while schools in Riau have also been shut.

Head of Riau’s health agency said Sumatran province has opened 12 temporary centres in the capital Pekanbaru to treat people suffering respiratory infections.

Statistics from Indonesia’s Health Ministry showed that acute respiratory infections have affected nearly 11,760 people in Palangka Raya, 15,346 in Riau and over 15,000 in Jambi.

The ministry distributed more than 1.2 million masks in affected areas and 1,000 vials of respiratory medicine.

The air pollution index in Palangka Raya, the capital of Central Kalimantan province on Borneo, has been at “dangerous” levels for days, while the air quality in other areas, such as Jambi and Riau provinces in Sumatra, also hit “unhealthy” levels.

Poor visibility due to the smoke affected 11 airports across Sumatra and Indonesian parts of Borneo on September 16, causing 10 flights to be canceled, 50 delayed and two diverted.

Indonesia and neighboring countries in Southeast Asia are regularly hit by haze from slash-and-burn clearances of forests for timber and palm oil plantations, but conditions this year have been the worst since 2015 due to an El Nino weather pattern causing an extended dry spell./.