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Haze death toll in Indonesia climbing, says minister

JAKARTA — The haze death toll continues to rise as efforts to extinguish the blazes blanketing Sumatra and Kalimantan are hampered by continuing dry conditions, an Indonesian minister said today (Oct 28).

Haze death toll in Indonesia climbing, says minister

Students walk along a street as they are released from school to return home earlier due to the haze in Jambi, Indonesia's Jambi province, September 29, 2015 in this picture taken by Antara Foto. Photo: Reuters

JAKARTA — The haze death toll continues to rise as efforts to extinguish the blazes blanketing Sumatra and Kalimantan are hampered by continuing dry conditions, an Indonesian minister said today (Oct 28).

Deaths from haze related respiratory illnesses have reached 19 across Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, Jambi, South Sumatra and Riau, Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa said. All five provinces have declared a state of emergency.

Residents will be continued to be evacuated while efforts to extinguish forest and peat fires carry on, Ms Parawansa said.

“Every half an hour all district and neighbourhood heads will get updates on the air quality index of their respective areas so that they can order an evacuation immediately,” she said.

The haze crisis has continued to worsen as over 43 million people have been exposed to smoke from the wildfires, with over half a million cases of acute respiratory tract infections recorded.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency has labelled the situation “a crime against humanity of extraordinary proportions”. THE JAKARTA GLOBE

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