Indonesia deploys soldiers to prevent forest fires as drought peaks

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JAKARTA, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia has sent several thousands of soldiers and police personnel to prevent forest and bush fires during the peak of the drought season, an official said here on Monday.

Some of the vast-archipelagic nation's areas are vulnerable to forest and bush fires during the dry season. This year, the drought season was estimated to be drier than those in the previous years, and would peak from August to September.

The deployment of the soldiers and policemen was along with the dispatch of many forest fire fighters and volunteers, bringing the total number of personnel to 6,000, said Raditya Jati, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency which coordinates the measures.

Provincial administrations have been asked to increase their preparedness against threats of forest fires, among others by taking an early measure once a hotspot is recovered, he said.

The spokesman said that the personnel have been sent to six provinces in the main islands of Sumatra and Borneo (Kalimantan) which have been frequently hit by forest and bush fires, sending neighboring countries thick smog that triggered health problems and incurred huge economic losses.

Besides, a total of 26 helicopters for water bombings have also been on standby in the six provinces and planes for spreading salts during weather modifications have also been prepared, the spokesman said.

So far, a total of six provinces in the two main islands have declared a state of emergency for forest and bush fires within a period from February to November, he said in a text message.

Indonesia has previously carried out weather modifications to water down peatlands in Sumatra and Kalimantan islands to prevent the areas from being burned during the peak of the drought season. Enditem

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