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Indonesia sees increased risk of forest fires amid dry weather – Govt

Indonesia sees increased risk of forest fires amid dry weather – Govt

JAKARTA, July 24 (Reuters) – The number of areas at risk of wildfires has doubled in the past week due to dry weather, Indonesian authorities said.

The number of ‘hotspots’ recorded between July 17 and July 23 rose to 12,701 from 6,082 a week earlier, according to data from Indonesia’s Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

BNPB spokesman Abdul Muhari said the increase in hotspots was mostly found in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo, Java and Papua.

“While not all hotspots will become fire spots, we still need to be vigilant because of the significant increase we’re seeing,” he said in a virtual briefing.

He highlighted that Indonesia has not yet reached the expected dry season from August to early September.

Indonesia’s weather agency said the country is expected to see its worst drought since 2019 this year, partly due to the return of the El Nino weather pattern.

Abdul warned that fires should not be left unattended and that any significant drop in water levels in peatland areas should be reported. He said that authorities are conducting aerial surveillance in six priority provinces.

The Southeast Asian nation experienced devastating forest fires in 2015 and 2019 that shrouded the country and parts of the Southeast Asian region in fog. The World Bank says the 2019 fires caused an estimated $5.2 billion in economic losses across eight Indonesian provinces.

Reporting by Francisca Nangoi; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor

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