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Battle to tame Indonesia fires

Monday, October 26, 2015 - 00:47

Indonesia's military say they're struggling in the battle to contain fires started because of slash and burn agriculture practices. Rough cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION Indonesia authorities struggled on Sunday (October 25) to contain fires started by slash-and-burn agriculture practices while the deteriorating air quality in the region led to at least one new death. Southeast Asia has suffered for years from an annual "haze" caused by forest and peat clearing across Indonesia, which has come under increasing political pressure to stop the problem, but so far to no avail. Fires this year have been helped by drier weather brought by the El Nino weather phenomenon and have pushed air pollution to hazardous levels across Southeast Asia, forcing schools to close and disrupting flights. The Indonesian military, struggling with the blazes on Kalimantan island, said it was a challenge for them to do their jobs. Indonesia earlier this month had asked several countries, including neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia and far-flung Russia, for aid, equipment and personnel to help combat the fires. Kalimantan is one of the worst hit areas. Four have died this year alone from the poor air quality. Indonesia is preparing warships to evacuate children and others suffering from smoke inhalation from slash-and-burn fires, a minister said on Friday (October 23). The ships, however, will only be used as a last resort amid other efforts, including moving residents to government offices with air purifiers. The fires are spreading to new areas like Papua and are unlikely to be put out till next year, experts say. Indonesia President Joko Widodo has said no new permits would be given to plantation companies to develop peatland, and that the government would work to restore and re-irrigate drained peatland areas that are often hit by fires.

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Battle to tame Indonesia fires

Monday, October 26, 2015 - 00:47