10/17/2015, 00.00
INDONESIA
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Jakarta launches largest anti-wildfire operation in nation’s history

About 22 thousand people on the ground to isolate outbreaks, aided by 32 aircraft. Some from Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. Army deployed. So far 425 thousand cases of respiratory infections. Several farms under investigation, accused of having caused the fires.

Jakarta (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Indonesia has launched the largest operation in its history to counter the wild fire emergency, which has brought the country to its knees, causing health problems and great difficulties for the population. Different parts of the country are still in flames, which are filling the air with toxic smoke. The government has deployed 32 aircraft (airplanes and helicopters) and hundreds of soldiers to isolate outbreaks.

The operation started yesterday, when the provincial police began investigations into an agricultural company's in southern Kalimantan, Palmina, owned by Chinese investors, accused of having intentionally set fires to clear hundreds of hectares of land and make way for crops.

Indonesian national disasters management agency spokesman, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, said that the operation includes 21 helicopters, seven fixed-wing airplanes for the release of tons of water and four spray aircraft. Six of these are from Singapore, Malyasia (also affected by the clouds of smoke) and Australia. The aircraft will provide support to more than 22 thousand people (including the military) who have been working on the ground for weeks. Much of the effort will be concentrated in the six most affected provinces in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Yesterday, Japan donated two tons of fire retardant to the Indonesian government.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, at least 425,700 people have had respiratory infections due to fumes. Nila Farid Moeloek, Minister of Health, said that "many were hospitalized, but their conditions are not serious. We are sending gas masks, food, medicines and oxygen tanks to areas most affected. "

According to the government satellites, there are 750 outbreaks. Indonesian authorities believe that most of the fires were caused by arson. National police chief General Badrodin Haiti said they are investigating 48 agricultural companies and 209 individuals linked to companies.

The wildfires also affected the country last year when, according to data from the Department of Health of Pkanbaru, 30 thousand people suffered from severe respiratory problems due to smoke inhalation.

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