October 14, 1997 in Nation/World

Haze Again Spreads Over Southeast Asia

Associated Press

The smoky haze over Southeast Asia spread Monday with the return of hot, dry weather and what appeared to be new forest fires in Indonesia.

Satellite images indicated that the number of wildfires may have grown from 40 over the weekend to 62 on Monday, the government said.

However, on-the-ground inspections would be needed to verify that all the hot spots were actually wildfires, the government said.

Even more forest fires might be hidden by the thick haze, which has been darkening skies over Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, southern Thailand and parts of the Philippines for weeks.

Most of the wildfires are burning on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Many were deliberately set by plantation owners and timber companies to clear land.

Britasi Saloh, an environmental official in the province of Central Kalimantan on Borneo, told the official Antara news agency that the rain forests would take 25 years to recover.

Rain had doused the flames in some areas in recent days. But after several days of showers and relatively clear weather, Singapore issued a health alert again Monday as the murky, gray smog increased.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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