Indonesian military poured bags of chemicals from an aircraft Wednesday to seed the clouds amid hopes of producing rain to douse raging forest fires.
Indonesia arrested around 200 people over their suspected involvement in forest fires which the authorities say have scorched 328,000 hectares (810,000 acres) of land since January but it is not clear how much of that has been to make way for palm plantations.
The country’s National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said Monday that 185 people had been arrested and four corporations are under investigation because “99 percent of the forest and land fires occurred due to human factors.”
Indonesia’s National Board for Disaster Management said hundreds of residents have been evacuated and more than 9,000 personnel have been deployed to battle the fires.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Tuesday 52 planes and 5,500 additional personnel were deployed to fight the forest fires.
Indonesian military poured bags of chemicals from an aircraft Wednesday to seed the clouds amid hopes of producing rain to douse raging forest fires which have been causing thick smog across the region.
"Knowing there is a potential of the cloud to rain, based on weather radar tracking that we have, now, there are some possible clouds that we can seed and produce rain with the blessings from the God. It (the cloud) is located in Bengkalis Siak. With the potential wind direction from the southeast, we hope that it can produce rain in Teluk Meranti area where the hotspots (of fire) at the moment are,” said Head of Airport Operations, Jajang Setiawan.
Military officials said they had tracked wind direction around the fire hotspots and flew over the affected areas to pour chemicals into the clouds from the sky.
The smoke, or haze, has forced schools and airports to shut and tens of thousands of people are now suffering from respiratory problems. More than 600 schools have closed in Malaysia due to air pollution.