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Foreign aid for forest fire arrives in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Friday that Singaporean planes have arrived in Indonesia to help stop forest and agriculture fire, and planes from other countries may also arrive days later.

Widodo said a number of countries have agreed to send aid to Indonesia to douse the blaze in Sumatra and Borneo islands which has triggered thick haze plaguing Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

"The planes arrived today (Friday) is from Singapore, Maybe on Sunday the planes from other countries will start coming," Widodo said in a statement issued by the Presidential Office.

The response comes after Widodo asked for foreign assistance to help end the fire after weeks of failed efforts conducted by Indonesia.

Thick haze from the fire has caused more than 300,000 people suffering from problem of respiratory, disturbed in flight and closed schools.

Widodo said the aircraft to be sent by foreign countries have capability to carry 12,000 to 15,000 litter of water for water bombing, compared with Indonesia's planes with capability to carry only 500 to 4,300 liter of waters.

The foreign aids would be concentrated at South Sumatra province as more hot spots are located there, said Widodo.

"Based on our checking, most of hot spots are found in South Sumatra," he said in Kampar sub-district of Riau province during his visit at the scene of forest fire.

On Thursday, Widodo said he had sought aids from Singapore, Malaysia, Russia and Japan to stop forest and agriculture fires.

The government has conducted the biggest air operation to stop the fire, involving helicopters, planes and over 25,000 personnel, including soldiers, but, dry weather exacerbated by El Nino phenomenon and lacking of waters, have hampered the attempt.

Indonesia has regularly faced forest fire problem in Sumatra and Borneo since 1990s due to land clearing for new palm oil plantations.

The government has frozen and revoked four plantation firms for their involvement in forest fires.

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