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Rain Helps Ease Smoke from Indonesian Fires

An Indonesian soldier drags a hose while fighting a peatland fire in Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra province on the island of Sumatra, Sept. 30, 2015.
Rain Helps Ease Smoke from Indonesian Fires
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Forest fires continue to burn in several parts of Indonesia.

A brief rain storm helped break up smoke from some of the fires on Wednesday. The governor of Riau province said 90-minutes of rainfall cleared away much of the smoke in northern Sumatra. He said the haze was reduced to a level where commercial airline companies could operate again.

But another official told reporters that much more rain is needed to help put out the fires. Luhut Panjaitan is Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister of Politics, Law and Security.

He said, “This week we have rain. If we have intensive rain for four straight days and our water bombings continue, I hope we would be back to normal next week. That’s our hope, but again it all depends on how much rain we have,” he said.

The official added that he has asked government agencies to consider the possibility of creating artificial rain.

Indonesia has come under heavy pressure from neighboring countries and environmental groups to put out the fires. Every year, some companies set forest fires on purpose. They do this to clear land and make way for palm oil plantations.

Thousands of people have developed breathing problems because of the smoke. Some non-governmental organizations plan to take legal action against the government. They say Indonesian officials have ignored the well-being of communities affected by the smoke.

The government has deployed more than 22,000 police officers and armed forces members to fight the forest fires. There are more than 1,600 fires burning in at least six provinces.

I’m George Grow.

Fathyah Wardah reported on this story for George Grow adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

haze – n. smoke or dust clouds in the air

straight – adj. following one after the other

artificial adj. man-made; not happening or existing naturally

plantations - n. a large area of land or farm, especially one where crops are grown