Haze kills 10 people in Indonesia, leaves over 500,000 with respiratory ailments: Agency

Ten people have died in Sumatra and Kalimantan due to smog from forest and land fires, which include those killed during fire extinguishing operations and victims of acute respiratory infections (ISPA), according to the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) on Saturday.

In addition to these victims, seven climbers were also killed and two others were in a critical condition after being trapped in a forest fires on the slopes of Mount Lawu on the border of East Java and Central Java on Oct 18.

BNPB also stated that the number of ISPA patients had reached 503,874 in six provinces between July 1 and October 23, with the top six contributors including Jambi with 129,229 patients, South Sumatra with 101,333, South Kalimantan with 97,430, Riau with 80,263 , Central Kalimantan with 52,142 and West Kalimantan with 43,477.

Based on the agency's analysis, more than 43 million Indonesians have been exposed to smog in Sumatra and Kalimantan alone.

Neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines have also experienced a decline in air quality following the haze dilemma.

"The smog disaster due to forest and land fires is a man-made disaster, since 99 per cent of the fires are intentional.

"It is an extraordinary crime against humanity," said BNPB spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho in a press release on Saturday.

"But this isn't the time for us to play the blame game; it's a time to act fast since the scale of the fires is so wide that it will be impossible to extinguish them in the next one or two weeks," added Sutopo.

See also: Haze spreads to Java and halts flights from Bandung