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Schools and airport forced to close as Indonesia fires rage

Smoke from the blaze reduced visibility at the main airport in Pekanbaru to around 300 yards.

Arms clasped, Muslims pray for rain in Pekanbaru, Riau province (AP)
Arms clasped, Muslims pray for rain in Pekanbaru, Riau province (AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

Authorities have closed an airport on Indonesia’s Sumatra island due to poor visibility caused by smoke from fires burning through peatland.

Airport official Yogi Prasetyo said some flights managed to land before noon on Friday (6am BST) at the main airport in Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau province.

He added that many airlines postponed flights due to the fluctuating visibility, which at times was limited to just 300 yards.

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Firefighters tackle brush fires in Kampar, Riau province (AP)

The air pollutant index hit the hazardous level in Riau and Jambi provinces, forcing most schools to close in a bid to protect children from the thick, noxious haze.

Health office data in the two provinces showed more than 300,000 people suffered respiratory illnesses since the haze began.

Nearly every year, Indonesian forest fires spread hazardous smoke across the region. Many of the fires are deliberately set to clear land.

PA

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