ENVIRONMENT

5 Indonesian provinces declare emergencies over forest fires

Five Indonesian provinces have declared states of emergency as peatlands burn in Aceh and the risk of fires spreading elsewhere increases during the annual dry season.

National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said Wednesday that 18 helicopters have been deployed to help extinguish fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Satellite images show that the number of fires increased from 150 on Sunday to 179 on Tuesday.

Nugroho said five provinces — Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan and South Kalimantan — have declared emergencies in anticipation of a worsening of the fires and to mitigate the choking smoke that peatlands generate when burned.

A state of emergency was earlier declared in West Aceh district, where fires on peatland expanded over 70 hectares (170 acres) within a week.