Thick smoke affects flights in western Indonesia

Officials say thick smoke from illegal fires affects flights in western Indonesia

Thick smoke affects flights in western Indonesia

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Officials say heavy smoke from fires set to clear land for plantations has blanketed parts of Indonesia's Sumatra island and disrupted flight operations.

Airport official Ibnu Hasan says state-run Garuda Indonesia and 15 other airlines have canceled all of their scheduled flights this week to and out of Pekanbaru, the provincial capital of Riau and the nearest city to the fires.

He said Thursday that thick smoke had reduced visibility to less than 200 meters (650 feet) and disrupted airport activity.

The smoke is also hampering Indonesian navy pilots searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner over the Malacca Strait, according to a pilot involved in the efforts.

Forest fires during the dry season in the peat-rich region anger Indonesia's neighbors Singapore and Malaysia.

Updated : 2021-03-05 15:56 GMT+08:00