Indonesia has arrested nearly 200 people over vast forest fires ripping across the archipelago, police said yesterday, as toxic haze sends air quality levels plummeting and sparks flight cancellations.
Jakarta has deployed thousands of personnel to battle blazes that are turning land into charred landscapes and consuming forests in Sumatra and Borneo islands, where thousands of schools have been shut over health fears.
The fires -- usually started by illegal burning to clear land for farming -- have unleashed choking haze across Southeast Asia, triggering diplomatic tensions with Indonesia’s neighbours.
Yesterday, authorities said they had arrested some 185 people suspected of being involved in activities that led to out-of-control fires sweeping the country.
“Indonesian Police will enforce the law against anyone who is proven to have carried out forest and land burning, whether it was done intentionally or through negligence,” National Police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo told reporters in Jakarta.
“This is a last resort. The most important thing is prevention.”
Four corporations were also being investigated, he added.