Indonesian President says sorry to Singapore for fires that have bathed city in toxic fog


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The Independent Online

The Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has apologised to Singapore and Malaysia for the record-setting pollution caused by forest fires in his country.

“For what is happening, as the President, I apologise to our brothers in Singapore and Malaysia,” Mr Yudhoyono said. He asked for their understanding and said Indonesia was working hard to fight the fires, which are often set by farmers to clear fields.

Jakarta dispatched planes and helicopters last week to battle the blazes in peat swamp forests as well as plantations in Riau province on Sumatra island, where the smoke easily  drifts across the sea to the two neighbouring countries. Mr Yudhoyono said he has ordered an investigation into the fires.

“There should be a thorough investigation. In my analysis, there are both natural and human factors,” he said, adding that the wind direction has caused the smoke to concentrate in Singapore and Malaysia.  Malaysian declared a state of emergency on Sunday in a district where the haze triggered one of the country’s worst pollution levels, while Singapore has urged people to remain indoors due to “hazardous” levels of pollution.