Due to thickening haze covering Tarakan city on Sunday morning, the pilot decided to divert his airplane's landing at Sepinggan International Airport in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan.
The Lion Air JT 626 was scheduled to arrive at Juwata International Airport at 8:40 a.m. local time, and the aircraft had actually cruised above Tarakan city, said Evi, one of the passengers on board of this Lion Air JT 626.
However, owing to the thickening smog, the pilot decided to divert the landing of his aircraft at Sepinggan International Airport, she said.
Shortly after landing at Sepinggan, all passengers were requested by the Lion Air ground officials to wait for the next notification at the airport's waiting room.
"Actually, I should continue my trip to Malinau to attend an occasion but I do not know when I am asked to get on board of the airplane again," said Evi, a civil servant of the Education and Culture Ministry.
Several parts of the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan have been suffering from the impact of thick smoke arising from wildfires over the past weeks.
The thickening smog has even threatened the people's health and economic activities. In helping those badly affected by this thick smoke, the Social Affairs Ministry has prepared safe houses or shelters, especially for children and elderly.
As revealed by Harry Hikmat, the ministry's director general for protection and social security, the availability of these safe houses is mainly focused in cities or villages, engulfed by haze emanating from forest fires.
Based on monitoring data of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), 1,231 hotspots were detected on Sumatra Island, 1,865 on Indonesia's Kalimantan Island, 412 on the Malaysian Peninsula, and 216 in Serawak and Sabah, Malaysia.