Feb. 13 - Land-clearing fires continue to create thick haze over Indonesia's Sumatra island. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY:Thick smoke from land-clearing forest fires in Indonesia continued to choke the island of Sumatra on Thursday (February 13).
Illegal burning of forests and other land on Sumatra to clear space for palm oil plantations is a chronic problem, sometimes affecting neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore.
Zainal Arifin from the Health Ministry office in Riau province said the level of PM10 particulate matter, or tiny particles in the air that are the most hazardous to health, reached an unhealthy level.
In Pekanbaru, capital of Riau Province, visibility was down to around 500 metres. Volunteers have started handing out face masks on the roads. Some residents said they can feel the air pollution affecting their health.
In 1997 and 1998, the smog disrupted air and sea traffic, causing an estimated $9 billion in terms of economic, social and environmental losses, according to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a 10-member regional grouping that includes Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.
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