Expert blames Saigon smog on Indonesia forest fires

Thanh Nien News

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Haze over a highway in Ho Chi Minh on the morning of October 7. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre/Tien Long Haze over a highway in Ho Chi Minh on the morning of October 7. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre/Tien Long


The smog hanging over many streets in Ho Chi Minh City the past few mornings might be caused by forest fires in Indonesia, claimed a weather expert.
Drivers in the southern city have experienced poor visibility due to the thick haze this week.
Dang Van Dung, deputy director of the Southern Hydro-meteorology Forecasting Center, on Tuesday said the phenomenon was the accumulation of dust and smoke particles due to rising air pollution of the city.
But on Wednesday, he told local media that the problem might actually be linked to the ongoing environmental crisis in Indonesia. 
Dung said that data from the center showed haze first appeared on Sunday above Con Dao, an island off Vietnam’s southern coast, then it spread to other islands including Phu Quoc.
“On Monday, it spread to the mainland and to Ho Chi Minh City,” he said, as cited by VnExpress.
Dung said the country’s largest city, with heavy traffic and industrial activities, suffers serious air pollution and haze appears from time to time. 
But this time, he said, air pollution may not be the culprit since there is haze above islands and mangrove forests as well. 
“So the smoke could have come from another place. There’s been no volcano eruption in the area but in Indonesia, there have been forest fires,” Dung said.
He said smoke can travel a long distance during strong winds.
Dung said his center will need to do more tests to reach a conclusion.
Fires from illegal burning of forests and agricultural land in South Sumatra have caused choking haze that blanketed Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and southern Thailand since mid-August.
The pollution is annual and occurs every dry season, but scientists say it is more severe this year and could surpass the level seen in 1997, when the haze cost an estimated US$9 billion in damage.

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