Indonesia sends more soldiers, helicopters to fight forest fire hinh anh 1Forest fire in Riau province of Indonesia (Photo: AFP)

Hanoi (VNA) –
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on September 17 that about 5,600 additional military personnel have been deployed to help 9,000 people currently fighting bush fires which have razed more than 328,700 hectares of land nationwide.

At least 52 helicopters have been mobilised for the work, spraying more than 263 million litres of water and 164 tonnes tonnes of salt for cloud seeding as part of the firefighting efforts in six provinces which have declared states of emergency.

Widodo also flew to Riau province, where nearly 50,000 hectares of forest have burned, to encourage authorities to get the haze under control.

Nearly every year, Indonesian forest fires spread health-damaging haze across the country and into neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore. The fires are often started by smallholders and plantation owners who set land on fire as a cheap way of clearing it for new planting.

Many areas of Indonesia are prone to rapid burning because of the draining of swampy peatlands forests for pulp wood and palm oil plantations.

Poor visibility caused by smoke caused flight delays at several airports in Indonesia and Malaysia, and prompted authorities to shut down schools in some parts of both countries.

The Indonesian Disaster Mitigation Agency detected 2,153 hotspots across the country on September 16, mostly in the six provinces of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, South Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan./.