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Singapore registers concerns over spike in hotspots

SINGAPORE — As the number of hotspots suddenly spiked over the last two days, the Republic today (July 22) registered its concerns with Indonesia over hotspot counts.

Singapore registers concerns over spike in hotspots

Daily detected hotspot count. Image: http://www.haze.gov.sg/

SINGAPORE — As the number of hotspots suddenly spiked over the last two days, the Republic today (July 22) registered its concerns with Indonesia over hotspot counts.

In a letter and call to Indonesia officials, National Environment Agency (NEA) Chief Executive Ronnie Tay raised concerns that the region would “once again be shrouded by smoke haze if the hotspots in Sumatra continue to remain high”, said the NEA in a statement.

Mr Tay also sought an “urgent update” of Indonesia’s efforts to tackle the fires and urged Indonesia to take immediate action.

Said NEA: “Mr Tay reiterated Singapore’s offer to provide support in the early detection of hotspots and suppression of fires, as well as to renew our standing offer of an aircraft to assist in cloud seeding operations.”

Yesterday and today, hotspot counts rose to 261 and 252, respectively. This is a marked increase from 159 hotspots on July 20 and 43 on July 19 and between 0 to 3 hotspots between July 14 to 18.

Yesterday, the NEA cautioned that hazy conditions may return to the Republic in the coming days, if dry weather persists in most parts of Sumatra and wind direction changes in the next two days.

Indonesian Deputy Minister for Environment and Social Vulnerability, Coordinating Ministry for People’s Welfare, Mr Willem Rampangilei, whom Mr Tay had called, said there has been “new sporadic burning”, said the NEA.

“He assured Mr Tay that the Indonesian government is monitoring the situation and taking various actions on the ground to suppress the fires, such as cloud seeding and water bombing efforts.”

Mr Rampangilei also said that the government has strengthened law enforcement and socialisation efforts, and the deployment of additional police and troops to the Riau area “will be considered urgently in a high level inter-agency meeting”.

The NEA said it will continue to monitor the situation and work closely with its Indonesian counterparts on the transboundary haze issue.

The NEA has also advised the interim ASEAN Coordinating Centre, through the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), that Alert Level 3 for Sumatra has been activated.

The ASMC has a regional warning system for the fire and haze situation based on three levels of alert. Alert Level 3 is activated when there are 250 hotspots or more detected on two consecutive days with dry weather conditions persisting and prevailing winds blowing towards other ASEAN countries. When Alert Level 3 is triggered, a panel of experts from the member countries may be deployed to the affected country, with the country’s consent, to assist in assessing the situation and provide their recommendations on resources that need to be mobilised to mitigate the fires and transboundary haze pollution.

Singapore is represented by experts from the SCDF in the panel and hosts the ASMC that supports the panel.

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