REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, MEDAN -- The NOAA 18 satellite detected a total of 288 hotspots of forest, plantation and peatland fires across Sumatra Island on Monday afternoon.
Of the 288 hotspots, 210 were detected in northern Sumatra and 78 in southern Sumatra, Hendra Suwarta of the Medan meteorological, climatology and geophysics agency (BMKG) said here on Tuesday.
In northern Sumatra, the hotspots were located in Aceh Province (39 hotspots), Riau (145), Riau Islands (four), and North Sumatra province (22).
In North Sumatra province, the hotspots were spread in North Tapanuli district (one hotspot), South Tapanuli (eight), Mandailing Natal (two), North Labuhan Batu (one), South Labuhan Batu (one), Asahan (one), Karo (one), Padang Lawas (one), Toba Samosir (two), Langkat (two), Humbang Hasundutan (one), and Binjai city (one).
The global warming and the dry season have worsened the forest fires on Sumatra Island, he said.
Parts of Sumatra island have been shrouded by haze coming from the fires. Riau province has so far been the worst hit by the fires which were mostly deliberately set to clear land for plantations.
The Riau police arrested a number of people for setting the fires.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for an immediate judicial process against Riau forest fire suspects that have already been arrested.
"I ask for immediate enforcement of the law and speedy judicial process of their case in a fair manner," he stated before a cabinet meeting in Jakarta on Monday.
He said that there are two factors that have caused forest fires, creating haze.
The first factor is the weather, which is abnormal again this year, marked by forecasts from El Nino and extreme weather conditions. "Due to this our forests and lands can easily catch fire," he explained.
The second factor is negligence and deliberate action by local people and certain companies or combination of both that can cause bigger fires.