MANILA, Philippines — The thick haze from uncontrolled forest fires in Indonesia has been affecting neighboring countries including the Philippines for weeks.
The haze has already reached Mindanao and Visayas. It may also reach Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.
PAGASA said, typhoon Lando influenced the wind direction of the haze when it entered Philippine area of responsibility last week.
Anthony Lucero, the OIC of Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section of PAGASA said, the fires in Indonesia occurred in carbon-rich peat lands.
A peat land area is where decayed vegetation from decomposed trees has accumulated and is buried under the soil. The chemical reaction during decomposition produces combustible materials such as methane, which, if the temperature is high and the weather is dry, spontaneously combusts.
The drought caused by El Niño is also a factor that aggravated the fire.
PAGASA said the forest fires in Indonesia may also happen in peatlands of the Philippines, particularly where kaingin is being practiced.
The impact of El Niño was first felt in Indonesia, and Malaysia –countries that are located in the equatorial region. Soon the Philippines may suffer the same fate.
We may see massive reduction in rainfall and possibly spontaneously combusting peat lands resulting in forest fires. (UNTV News)
A huge forest fire in Ukraine that has been raging for more than a week is now just one kilometer from the defunct Chernobyl nuclear power plant and poses a radiation risk, Greenpeace Russia warned on Monday (April 13), citing satellite images.
Ukraine’s Emergency Situations Service said it was still fighting the fires, but that the situation was under control.
Aerial images of the 30 km (19 mile) exclusion zone around the plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986, showed scorched, blackened earth and the charred stumps of still smouldering trees.
The Emergency Situations Service said radiation levels in the exclusion zone had not changed and those in nearby Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, “did not exceed natural background levels.”
Greenpeace Russia said the situation is much worse than Ukrainian authorities believe, and that the fires cover an area one thousand times bigger than they claim.
On April 4 Ukrainian authorities said the blaze covered an area of 20 hectares, but Greenpeace cited satellite images showing it was around 12,000 hectares in size at that time.
“According to satellite images taken on Monday, the area of the largest fire has reached 34,400 hectares,” it said, adding that a second fire, stretching across 12,600 hectares, was just one kilometre away from the defunct plant.
Ukrainian officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on those claims.
Rashid Alimov, head of energy projects at Greenpeace Russia, said the fires, fanned by the wind, could disperse radionuclides, atoms that emit radiation.
“A fire approaching a nuclear or hazardous radiation facility is always a risk,” Alimov said. “In this case we’re hoping for rain tomorrow.”
Chernobyl tour operator Yaroslav Yemelianenko, writing on Facebook, described the situation as critical.
He said the fire was rapidly expanding and had reached the abandoned city of Pripyat, two kilometres from where “the most highly active radiation waste of the whole Chernobyl zone is located.” He called on officials to warn people of the danger.
Satellite images taken by NASA Worldview and seen by Reuters showed the two fires had extended far into the exclusion zone.
The fires, which follow unusually dry weather, began on April 3 in the western part of the exclusion zone and spread to nearby forests.
Police say they have identified a 27-year old local resident who they accuse of deliberately starting the blaze.
It remains unclear if the person, who has reportedly confessed to starting a number of fires “for fun,” is partly or fully responsible. (Reuters)
A massive forest fire in southwestern China has killed 19 people, according to a state media report on Tuesday (March 31).
Eighteen firefighters and a local guide were confirmed dead, from a group of 21 firefighters who went to fight the blaze that had spread over more than 1,000 hectares of land near Xichang, a city in Sichuan province.
The fire started on a farm on Monday (March 30) afternoon and quickly spread to nearby mountains due to strong winds, according to local reports.
Flames and heavy smoke were seen drifting into the sky, posing a threat to a nearby town — including a gas storage station about 70 meters away from parts of the fire.
“This place (the gas station) is by far the most dangerous place in this forest fire in Xichang,” said Zhang Shanhu, a member of the local fire and rescue team.
Police have evacuated more than 1,200 people from the area, and local authorities have organized over 2,000 people to fight the blaze. (Reuters)
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