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. Smokey haze blankets parts of Indonesia's Borneo, delaying flights
JAKARTA (AFP) Oct 16, 2004
Choking haze from forest and ground fires blanketed the southern parts of the Indonesian island of Borneo Saturday, disrupting flights in central part of the island, officials said.

At least two flights in Muara Teweh city in Central Kalimantan province were cancelled early Saturday because of smoke from fires lit to clear new plantation land, said an airport official named Erny.

Visibility in the morning was only 700 meters (2,310 feet), she said.

Parts of Malaysia including the capital Kuala Lumpur were shrouded Friday in smog caused by fires in neighbouring Indonesia, officials there were quoted as saying.

They said there were 442 "hotspots" or burning areas on Sumatra island on Thursday.

Parts of Indonesia were on Wednesday enveloped in one of the worst days of haze this year, prompting residents to don face masks to ward off thick, choking fumes.

The haze, caused by forest and ground fires across Indonesia, descended on the province of South Kalimantan on Borneo island, reducing visibility and filling the air with a noxious burning smell.

In 1997 and 1998, choking haze caused by forest fires in Indonesia enveloped parts of Southeast Asia for months, causing serious health problems and traffic hazards and disrupting airline schedules.

The haze then caused an estimated 9.3 billion dollars in economic losses.

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