OCHA Situation Report No. 3
Indonesia - Fires
1. Numerous peat conversion fires, slash-and-burn agriculture fires, and wildfires affecting forests and other vegetation on the Indonesian island of Sumatra have been causing serious haze problems since the beginning of August 2005.
2. According to a recent update from the secretariat of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), satellites of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) detected 64 active fires in eastern and southern Kalimantan, while only a few were detected in Sumatra. Active fires were detected in the districts of Sintang, Sanggau, and Ketapang in West Kalimantan Province; districts of Kotawaringin Timur, Katingan, Seruyan, Kapuas in Central Kalimantan Province; districts of Kotabaru, Tapin, Hulu Sungai Selatan, Banjar, Tanah Laut in South Kalimantan Province. A few fires were monitored in central Sumatra. No haze was observed. Scattered thunderstorms have been affected most of the region in the past days. According to the Global Fire Monitoring Center, however, measuring the number of active fires depicted by satellite sensors is a crude method with limited applicability in Indonesia as no indication is provided about the characteristics of the fire recorded - for example, whether it involves forest, deep peat, bush, etc. Please see http://www.fire.uni-freiburg.de/ for more detail. Space imagery of the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA's Aura satellite showed high aerosol concentration in the smoke plumes drifting from Sumatra to the mainland of Malaysia (see GFMC summary update of 26 August 2005 at: http://www.fire.uni-freiburg.de/GFMCnew/2005/08/0826/20050826_sea.htm).
3. According to the Indonesian Ministry of Health, no significant increase in respiratory diseases has been reported. Health Offices in the fire-affected provinces have sufficient buffer stock of masks and have mobilized its Environmental Health Clinic for health checks of affected communities and air pollution monitoring.
4. No updates have been received on the situation in Brunei Darussalam and Thailand.
5. No fires in Singapore have been reported. However, 1 fire was detected in Myanmar, 58 fires were detected in the Indochina sub-region (i.e. Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Viet Nam). Most of these fires were detected in Viet Nam.
6. According to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the current southwesterly winds blowing over Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia are expected to persist for the week. This wind pattern is expected to lead to drier condition in Malaysia by the middle of the week.
7. National Response
8. On 23 August, joint cloud-seeding operations were conducted with Singapore in the Riau Province (Pelalawan District and Rokan Hulu District). A second team was dispatched to Kalimantan for cloud seeding but, due to rain, returned to Jakarta on 25 August. The Ministry of Forestry has been mobilizing its 'Manggala Agni' emergency response team for forest fires, which will cooperate with fire fighters provided by Malaysia and Singapore.
9. International Response
10. The Department of Environment in Malaysia has urged the public not to conduct any open burning that could deteriorate air quality, and to report open burning cases by dialing (toll free) JASLINE at 1-800-88-2727. Malaysia continues to intensify ground and aerial surveillance. All active fires detected by satellite in the country will be investigated on a daily basis and reports prepared accordingly. The Malaysian Meteorological Services (MMS) continues to undertake cloud seeding to suppress the local burning in areas where feasible. On 25 August, the water bombing team from Malaysia returned home.
11. The Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit has sent a staff member to Jakarta. Upon arrival he will meet relevant Government Authorities and provide additional support to the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator and the OCHA office in Jakarta, as required. Updates will be provided as soon as possible. The Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit is the focal point for fires in OCHA-Geneva.
12. The Australian Technical Assessment Team (ATAT) of Emergency Management of Australia (EMA) has completed its assessment and held meetings with Bakornas on 24 August.
13. The Government of Indonesia has not formally requested international assistance so far.
14. This report has been prepared on the basis of information provided by the OCHA Office in Indonesia, Bakornas PBP, Indonesian Ministry of Forestry, the Indonesian Ministry of Health, the Indonesian Red Cross Society (PMI), ASEAN Haze-online, Global Fire Monitoring Center, and media reports.
15. This situation report, together with further information on other ongoing emergencies is available on the OCHA Internet Website at http://www.reliefweb.int.
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