Guardian, the (UK)
The fires devastating Indonesia have been called a ‘crime against humanity’, reports the Guardian. How did they start, what damage are they causing and who’s to blame? Satellite data of the fire hotspots shows, forest fires have affected the length and breadth of Indonesia.The fires have been raging since July, with efforts to extinguish them hampered by seasonal dry conditions exacerbated by the El Nino effect. As well as Indonesia, the acrid haze from the fires is engulfing neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore and has reached as far as southern Thailand.
The damage is extensive to Indonesia’s tropical forests that represent some of the most diverse habitats on the planet. It adds to decades of existing deforestation by palm oil, timber and other agribusiness operators.19 people have died and an estimated 500,000 cases of respiratory tract infections have been reported since the start of the fires. The fires could cause an estimated 100,000 premature deaths in the region. Financial damage to the region’s economy is still being counted, but the Indonesian government’s own estimates suggest it could be as high as $47bn, a huge blow to the country’s economy.