Indonesia deployed military planes recently to fight forest fires that blanketed neighboring Singapore in record levels of hazardous smog in one of Southeast Asia’s worst air-pollution crises, report Kanupriya Kapoor and Michael Taylor at Reuters News. As Singaporeans donned face masks and pulled children from playgrounds and Malaysia closed schools in the south, the deliberately-lit fires grew bigger in some areas. Whipped up by winds, the blazes added to fears over health problems and diplomatic tension in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Indonesia blamed 8 companies which own logging concessions in the burning areas, and vowed action against any found guilty. Illegal burning on Indonesia’s Sumatra island typically takes place in the June to September dry season to clear space for palm oil plantations. This year’s fires are unusually widespread and the haze is the worst in Singapore’s history, which could last weeks Singapore warned. Indonesia has earmarked around $20 million to handle the disaster. Besides creating hazardous smog, burning rainforests destroys important carbon storage systems releasing large amounts of greenhouse gases that further accelerate climate change.
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Smog over Singapore creates diplomatic friction with Indonesia. For a week now, the island state of Singapore has been blanketed in the worst smog in a decade. The acrid haze has drifted across from neighbouring Indonesia, where forest fires are burning, and the ugly and hazardous air pollution is creating diplomatic tension between the two countries. Australia ABC News