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Indonesia apologizes to Malaysia and Singapore for hazardous smog

Massive amounts of smoke have drifted over from forest fires burning on Sumatra.

Singapore smog 7Enlarge
Indonesian firefighters from the Forest Ministry battle forest fires in Pekanbaru city, capital of Riau province located on Sumatra island and about 198 miles west of Singapore. (Hafiz Alfarissi /AFP/Getty Images)

Indonesia’s president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has apologized to Singapore and Malaysia for the smog that has drifted over from Sumatra.

Forest fires burning on the Indonesian island for the past week – some likely set by farmers to clear fields at palm oil plantations – are generating massive amounts of smoke that have blanketed the neighboring nations, the Guardian reported.

Malaysia declared a state of emergency over the weekend due to the pollution, and Singapore told citizens to shelter indoors since smog levels were “hazardous,” the Guardian reported.

"For this incident, I, as President of Indonesia, would like to apologize to Singapore and Malaysia and ask for their understanding. Indonesia did not want this to happen, and we are trying to address this problem responsibly," Yudhoyono said at a news conference on Monday evening, according to CNN.

He said Jakarta was fighting the fires with planes, helicopters and 5,000 firefighters, police and military personnel, CNN reported.

"I have given instructions to mobilize the power we have, the resources we have including funding. There should be no obstacles in disbursing these funds," Yudhoyono said.

Shifting winds improved air quality in Malaysia and Singapore on Tuesday.

More from GlobalPost: Less pollution may lead to more hurricanes: study

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/indonesia/130625/indonesia-apologizes-malaysia-and-singapore-haza