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Wednesday, November 19, 1997 Published at 19:46 GMT


Haze clears over south-east Asia

The haze is clearing - but it could be back next year

Heavy monsoon rains over south-east Asia have begun to disperse the thick haze which has blanketed the region for the last four months.

All of Indonesia's airports are now open and for the first time in weeks the skies over Singapore are blue.

Satellite pictures of the area show that the huge forest fires on the Indonesian islands of Borneo and Sumatra, which caused most of the smog, have been largely extinguished.

The fires were lit by logging and plantation companies to clear the land for cultivation. The pollution made tens of thousands of people ill, as well as damaging the environment and the tourist industry.

But Indonesia may not yet have seen the last of the haze. Reports suggest that it is likely to be back again next year because the government has failed to stop the companies from using fire to clear the land.

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