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Indonesian Forest Fires: Updates and Travel Advice
17 September 2019 | Written by dtnweb

A number of hotspots have been detected in Sumatra and Kalimantan in the past few weeks, due to forest fires, illegal logging and slash and burn in peatland areas. This has been exacerbated by the extended dry season currently underway in Indonesia.

In Sumatra, southern areas around Riau and Jambi have been affected by the haze. The Head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Lt Gen. Doni Monardo has stated that Riau is highly susceptible to forest and land fires, due to the region’s dry season peaking from July to October. A joint team of 1,512 personnel comprising local firefighters, police and military officers has been deployed to contain and extinguish the forest fires there.

In the north of Sumatra, where popular tourism hotspots such as Lake Toba are located, visibility is normal and the weather forecast includes scattered showers. Daily life in this region is going on as normal; all tour activities and flights remain unaffected. There have been no travel warnings issued for this area by local, provincial or national safety regulators.

In Kalimantan, the haze has disrupted several flights at Tjilik Riwut Airport in Palangkaraya, the capital of Central Kalimantan Province. In this area, the thick smoke reduced visibility to just 600 metres and, according to the airport’s general manager Siswanto, caused severe difficulties for pilots. This resulted in several flight cancellations for both Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air. The airport was able to serve just two Lion Air flights for Surabaya and Jakarta on Sunday morning, said Siswanto.

Over two million acres of land in Indonesia have been burnt by local farmers in recent weeks, causing thick smoke to blanket large areas across Sumatra and Kalimantan. Neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore have also complained of pollution resulting from the fires in Indonesia, independently identifying nearly 1,300 hot spots in Kalimantan and Sumatra that are contributing to the smog. In some areas schools and public buildings have been closed due to the pollution.

At this time, all Panorama Destination tour packages are operating as normal and Indonesia remains a safe place for travel. Clients visiting Sumatra or Kalimantan over the next few weeks are advised to check with their local representative for the latest information. Panorama Destination recommends bringing a simple paper face mask to block out any potentially harmful particles in the air, and these can also be easily purchased upon arrival. We will continue to update these pages with the latest information as it becomes available, to ensure all visitors to Indonesia can remain safe and healthy during their travels.