The Terra and Aqua satellite detected 337 hotspots of forest and plantation fires in Riau Province on Monday morning.
“The largest number is in Bengkalis with 121 hotspots,” Sugarin, the head of the Pekanbaru meteorological, climatology and geophysics office (BMKG) stated.
Some 80 hotspots were found in the Meranti Island district, 55 in Indragiri Hilir, 46 in Siak, 40 in Rokan Hilir, 29 in Pelalawan, and two in Dumai City.
Around 70 per cent of the hotspots or 140 came from plantation fires, with the largest number in Bengkalis (60), Meranti (31), Indragiri Hilir (22), Siak (21), Pelalawan (4), Dumai and Rokan Hilir one hotspot respectively.
The NOAA 18 satellite operated by Singapore, detected 70 hotspots across Sumatra on Sunday (Mar. 2), with the highest number or 54 in Riau Province.
The rests were in Meranti (17), Indragiri Hilir (12), Pelalawan (11), Bengkalis (7), Siak (4), Indragiri Hulu (2) and Dumai City (one).
Chief of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Syamsul Maarif stated that some 99 per cent of forest and plantation fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan were deliberately set.
“There should be sanctions to stop recurrences. Slash-and-burn farming methods exist in Sumatra and Kalimantan, but the most important thing is that they should be controlled,” Maarif noted in a statement on Feb. 28.
According to Maarif, the Indonesian police have named 23 suspects in Riau and 16 in Central Kalimantan, who allegedly set the fires.
“There are several factors behind their decision to set fires in plantation and forest areas, such as economic, social and cultural factors,” he explained.
On February 28, the Riau provincial police announced that 40 individuals have been named as suspects in forest and plantations fires in several districts and cities.
“All of them have been detained, after being identified as suspects, for allegedly setting fires during the past several weeks,” said Senior Commissioner Estuning of the Riau police plantation fire task force.
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