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Fires fuel Singapore heavy haze, viewable from space

Nasa / AFP - Getty Images

This NASA Terra and Aqua satellite image from June 19, 2013 shows smoke caused by forest fires, indicated at source by NASA with red graphics, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra (left) blowing east towards southern Malaysia (above, center) and Singapore (below, center) at 2.30pm local time. Indonesia on Friday deployed helicopters to artificially create rain in a bid to fight raging fires that have choked Singapore with smog, which is hitting record-breaking levels that pose a threat to the elderly and the ill.

Fikih Nauli / Reuters

An aerial view of burning lands in Palalawan district in Riau province on June 21, 2013. Indonesia deployed military planes to fight raging forest fires on Friday that blanketed neighboring Singapore in record levels of hazardous smog for a third straight day in one of Southeast Asia's worst air-pollution crises.

Chris McGrath / Getty Images

The Merlion is the only visible landmark on the bay as the Singapore skyline is completely covered in smoke haze on June 21, 2013 in Singapore. The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) rose to the highest level on record reaching 400 at 11am. The haze is created by deliberate slash-and-burn forest fires started by companies in neighbouring Sumatra.

Edgar Su / Reuters

People wearing masks cross a street in Singapore's Orchard Road shopping area on June 21, 2013. The haze blanketing Singapore from fires in Indonesia could persist for weeks or even longer, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday, warning of consequences if Singapore-linked companies were found responsible for the burning.

Indonesia deployed military planes on Friday to fight forest fires that blanketed neighboring Singapore in record levels of hazardous smog for a third day in one of Southeast Asia's worst air-pollution crises.

As people in Singapore donned face masks and pulled children from playgrounds and Malaysia closed schools in the south, the deliberately-lit fires grew bigger in some areas. Whipped up by winds, the blazes added to fears over health problems and diplomatic tension in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

"The winds are picking up and the weather isn't very good at the moment, so the fires in some places are getting bigger," said Gunawan, a firefighter who like many Indonesians goes by one name. "We are working as hard as possible to control the fires... but we're facing difficult conditions."

 

Joseph Nair / AP

Singapore Central Business District, or CBD skyline is covered with a thick haze on June 21, 2013. Air pollution in Singapore has soared to record heights for a third consecutive day, as Indonesia prepared planes and helicopters to battle raging fires blamed for hazardous levels of smoky haze in three countries.

Mohd Rasfan / AFP - Getty Images

A general view shows residential and commercial buildings shrouded by haze in Ampang, the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur on June 21, 2013. Malaysia was shrouded with smoky haze attributed to mainly fires burning on the Indonesian island of Sumatra causing "unhealthy" levels of pollution in six areas.

Related: Face masks fly off shelves as thick haze descends on Singapore