ASEAN IN FOCUS

Malaysia, Indonesia shut thousands of schools over forest fires haze

  KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — Thousands of schools were shuttered across Malaysia and Indonesia Thursday, affecting at least 1.7 million pupils, officials said, as toxic haze from rampant forest fires sent air quality plummeting. Nearly 2,500 schools were ordered to shut their doors in Malaysia — including nearly 300 in the smog-hit capital Kuala Lumpur — over soaring health concerns sparked by toxic haze from out-of-control blazes in Indonesia’s Sumatra and Borneo islands. Indonesia […]

Indonesia returning hundreds of containers of waste to West

  JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesia is sending back hundreds of containers of contaminated waste to the West after shipments supposedly containing plastic meant for recycling were found to hide hazardous substances, customs officials said. Among more than 2,000 containers checked by authorities at four ports from July to mid-September, nearly 550 contained hazardous material or non-plastic waste. More than 300 containers have already been repatriated, officials said. “Imported waste mixed with trash or hazardous […]

Indonesian haze closes schools, sparks fears for Singapore F1

    by Sam Reeves Agence France Presse KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AFP) — Toxic haze from Indonesian forest fires closed thousands of schools across the country and in neighbouring Malaysia Wednesday, while air quality worsened in Singapore just days before the city’s Formula One motor race. Illegal fires to clear land for agriculture are blazing out of control on Sumatra and Borneo islands, with Jakarta deploying thousands of security forces and water-bombing aircraft to tackle […]

Cargo plane carrying four missing in eastern Indonesia

TIMIKA, Indonesia (AFP) — An Indonesian cargo plane with four people on board lost contact with air traffic control on Wednesday, an official said, the latest incident to hit the country’s poor aviation record. The Twin Otter DHC6-400, set off from the city of Timika on Monday at 10:39 am (0239 GMT) and was headed to Ilaga, a mountainous region in the remote eastern province of Papua and was scheduled to arrive 50 minutes after […]

Indonesia arrests nearly 200 over raging forest fires

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Indonesia has arrested nearly 200 people over vast forest fires ripping across the archipelago, police said Monday, as toxic haze sends air quality levels plummeting and sparks flight cancellations. Jakarta has deployed thousands of personnel to battle blazes that are turning land into charred landscapes and consuming forests in Sumatra and Borneo islands, where thousands of schools have been shut over health fears. The fires — usually started by illegal burning […]

Frontline fight: Indonesia locked in epic battle against jungle blazes

by Dessy SAGITA PEKANBARU, Indonesia (AFP) — Working around the clock, thousands of firefighters are struggling to contain smog-belching blazes raging across rainforests and farmland in Indonesia, one of the frontlines against fires blamed for aggravating global warming. Those leading the response are short on equipment, with some wearing just flimsy masks and rubber boots as they blast streams of water at flames consuming the jungle — and enveloping wide swathes of Southeast Asia in […]

Thailand’s northeast inundated after tropical storm

  BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Floods in northeastern Thailand have submerged homes, roads and bridges, leaving more than 23,000 people in evacuation shelters as anger grows over the government’s “slow” emergency response. Torrential rain has lashed the country for the last two weeks, causing flash floods and mudslides in almost half its provinces, with families evacuated from their homes in boats or makeshift rafts. Since August 29, 32 people have been killed in the deluge, […]

Indonesians choked by forest fire haze pray for rain

PEKANBARU, Indonesia (AFP) — Hundreds of people held a mass prayer for rain in a smoke-filled Indonesian city on Friday, desperately hoping that downpours will extinguish forest fires and wash away the toxic haze covering wide swathes of the country. Illegal fires to clear land for farming are raging on Indonesia’s Sumatra and Borneo islands with firefighters battling round the clock through charred forests, and water-bombing helicopters deployed to douse the flames. Dense smoke has […]

Hundreds of schools shut as forest-fire haze blankets SE Asia

  by Junus Nuh Agence France Presse JAMBI, Indonesia (AFP) — Huge fires are raging across vast swathes of Indonesia’s rainforests — some of the world’s biggest — with toxic smog shutting hundreds of schools in Southeast Asia, officials said Tuesday. Massive jungle areas in Sumatra and Borneo islands are ablaze as thousands of personnel battle to quell the fires, frequently started to clear land for crop plantations. Burning forests to make way for farming […]

Indonesia forest fires surge, stoking global warming fears

by Dessy Sagita Agence France Presse PEKANBARU, Indonesia (AFP) — The number of blazes in Indonesia’s rainforests has jumped sharply, satellite data showed Thursday, spreading smog across Southeast Asia and adding to concerns about the impact of increasing wildfire outbreaks worldwide on global warming. Illegal blazes to clear land for agricultural plantations have been raging on Sumatra and Borneo islands, with Indonesia deploying water-bombing helicopters and thousands of security forces to tackle them. It is […]

Singapore President visits Philippine Eagle Center, expresses interest in biodiversity cooperation

(Eagle News) — Singapore President Halimah Yacob visited the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City on Wednesday, Sept. 11, as she stressed her country‚Äôs interest in continuing cooperation on biodiversity conservation. President Yacob visited the conservation facility where 30 Philippine eagle raptors are kept for conservation and breeding at the Malagos Nature Park. She is the first foreign head of state to visit the center. The Philippine Eagle Foundation manages the Philippine Eagle Center.The center […]

Former Indonesian president Habibie dies at 83

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AFP) — Former Indonesian president B.J. Habibie, who ushered in an era of democratic reforms after the downfall of long-time dictator Suharto, died on Wednesday at the age of 83 in Jakarta, his family and officials said. Habibie died at a military hospital in the capital after suffering from heart failure. In a televised speech announcing Habibie’s death, President Joko Widodo called the former aircraft engineer and politician a “world-class scientist” and “the […]