(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The crash of the Garuda Indonesian Airbus A-300 near Medan, Sumatra today, with all 234 on board feared dead, is most shocking. There was no immediate word on the cause of the crash but one resident in Medan said the city was shrouded in heavy haze from bush fires in the region.
Search and rescue teams are rushing to the area which has been affected by heavy haze stemming from thousands of forest fires.
The 234 crash victims are the latest casualties of the worst air pollution disaster in the region. It is time the Indonesian Government declare the raging thousands of forest and plantation fires an international disaster, threatening the life and health of tens of millions of people not only in the neighbouring countries of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines, but in Indonesia itself.
Indonesia should be humble enough to admit that it is unable to deal with the thousands of raging forest and plantation fires and invite an international fire-fighting force to be formed, if necessary even under the auspices of the United Nations, to bring the thousands of forest and plantation fires to be brought under control before they claim more lives, whether of Indonesians or those of neighbouring ASEAN countries.