Southeast Asia seeks way out of haze hinh anh 1Choking haze blankets an airport in Phuket, Thailand. (Photo: Reuters/VNA)
Indonesia welcomes international support to handle damaging forest blazes in Sumatra and Kalimantan, President Joko Widodo stated in a recent announcement.

Cloaking Southeast Asia in haze for weeks, the fires resulted from slash-and-burn agriculture on Sumatra island and part of Borneo island and have so far caused about 4 billion USD in economic losses for the nation. Indonesia has deployed more than 22,000 personnel and 30 aircrafts for water-bombing and artificial rain but the fire fighters continue to be overwhelmed by the extent of the blazes.

The haze has forced Malaysia and Singapore to close schools and cancel outdoor events, while businesses in the Southeast Asian region are suffering damages amounting to millions of USD.

Recently, Thailand’s Foreign Ministry has met with the Indonesian Ambassador to the country on measures to address haze issues, as the smoke has worsen air quality across the country’s seven southern provinces. The ministry said Thailand is ready to work together with other ASEAN member states to find short- and long-terms solutions to the issue, which wrecks havoc across Southeast Asia every year.

Thai officials also raised the issue for discussion at an ASEAN senior foreign officials’ meeting in Kuala Lumpur and will do the same again in the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment in Hanoi on October 27-29 .

According to Indonesian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir, Indonesia will cooperate with Australia, China, Malaysia, Russia and Japan to control the fires. The nation has already been receiving assistance from Singapore since August 10.

National disaster mitigation agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said international aid will concentrate on South Sumatra province, particularly in Ogan Ogan Illir and Banyuasin districts.

The year 1997 saw the worst haze pollution, which lasted three months, causing damages worth 20.1 billion USD for Indonesia and 9-10 billion USD for Singapore.-VNA