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Forest fire smog causes sky in Indonesia to turn blood red

  • Published at 04:11 pm September 24th, 2019
Indonesia-Fire-smog
A glowing red sky is seen in Kumpeh District in Muaro Jambi Regency, Indonesia in this still image obtained from a on September 21, 2019 social media video Reuters

Fires in Indonesia create a smoky haze over the entire South East Asian region every year

Haze from widespread forest fires in Indonesia has caused the skies over its Jambi province to turn blood red over the weekend.

A series of photos taken by a resident of the Mekar Sari village in Jambi province on Saturday showed the seriousness of the situation.

Eka Wulandari, who took the pictures, told BBC Indonesian that the haze conditions became even more dire on Monday, reports BBC.

"The haze conditions had been especially "thick that [day]," she said.

The 21-year-old posted the pictures on Facebook, which have since been shared more than 34,000 times.

However, she said many people online had doubted whether the photos were real or not.

"But it's true. [It's a] real photo and video that I took with my phone," she said.

Another Twitter user posted a video showing similarly red skies.

"This is not Mars. This is Jambi," user Zuni Shofi Yatun Nisa said. "We humans need clean air, not smoke."

Fires in Indonesia tend to create a smoky haze that creates a layer over the entire South East Asian region every year.

A meteorology expert said the unusual sky was caused by an occurrence known as Rayleigh scattering, BBC reported.

Indonesia's meteorological agency BMKG said satellite images revealed many hot spots and "thick smoke distribution" in the area around the Jambi region.

During the dry season, Indonesian farmers use fire to clear land, often for palm and pulp plantations, but the flames can rage out of control to produce a choking haze, that spreads to neighbours like Singapore and Malaysia.

A mild El Nino weather pattern this year has aggravated the impact of fires, with the number of hot spots rising to the highest, since the devastating fires in 2015.

Indonesia has been facing global pressure to put an end to slash-and-burn clearance of land, especially as fires have also burned swathes of the Amazon and parts of Africa.

Southeast Asia has suffered for years from annual bouts of smog caused by slash-and-burn practices in Indonesia’s islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, but governments in the region have failed to stamp out the problem.