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Indonesia arrests about 200 over forest fires

Indonesia has arrested nearly 200 individuals over enormous woods fires scattered around the archipelago, authorities said Monday, as poisonous haze sends air quality levels plummeting and sparks flight cancellations.

Jakarta has deployed tens of thousands of employees to combat blazes which are turning soil into charred arenas and absorbing forests in Sumatra and Borneo islands, where tens of thousands of schools are closed over health fears.

On Monday, police said they had detained some 185 individuals suspected of being engaged in actions that resulted in out-of-control fires crossing the nation.

“Indonesian Authorities will enforce the law against anybody who’s known to have completed forest and property trimming, if it was done intentionally or through neglect,” National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told reporters in Jakarta.

“That is the last resort. The most crucial issue is avoidance.”

Last week, Indonesia closed off heaps of plantations in which smog-belching fires were blazing and cautioned that owners — such as Malaysia and Singapore-based companies — would face criminal charges if there had been evidence of burning.

Some of the severe fires happen in peatlands, that can be highly combustible when emptied of water to be transformed into agricultural plantations.

Thick haze at Borneo — at which air quality levels have shrunk to”dangerous” levels in certain regions — caused the cancellation of roughly a dozen flights Sunday, national airline Garuda explained.

Meanwhile, almost 150,000 people are treated for severe respiratory ailments connected to the haze in recent weeks, based on Indonesian medical authorities.

While forest fires are a yearly issue, the problem this season was worsened by dryer weather in Indonesia, together with diplomatic tensions soaring as poisonous smog drifts around to neighboring Malaysia and Singapore.

The haze pushed Singapore’s air quality into unhealthy amounts for the first time in 3 years in the weekend.

In 2015, Indonesia endured its worst forest fires for nearly two years, which radically improved its greenhouse gas emissions.

Massive fires scattered throughout the Amazon will also be compounding concerns concerning the long-term effect of these blazes on maintaining global temperature levels steady.