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Indonesia forest fires spark diplomatic row over record Singapore smog


Indonesia forest fires spark diplomatic row over record Singapore smog

Pollution in Singapore has reached record levels and the city-state’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has warned it could last for weeks. It has prompted a row with neighbouring Indonesia over the cause.

This is no natural phenomenon: the haze is caused by the illegal burning of forests on Indonesia’s Sumatra island. It happens every year but this time it is worse than ever.

Air quality has been declared dangerous and breathing masks have sold out. Skyscrapers that usually dominate clear skies are smothered in smog.

The two countries are holding an emergency meeting in Jakarta. The June to September dry season sees forests and other land on Sumatra burned to clear space for palm oil plantations.

But Singapore’s plight has brought little sympathy from Indonesia’s government.

The minister responsible for fighting forest fires accused Singapore of behaving like a child, suggesting that companies from Singapore with a stake in the plantations might be to blame.

Singapore has warned of consequences if it is confirmed that its companies are involved.

Its government has provided satellite data and imagery to help Indonesia identify those responsible.

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