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Indonesian planes sent to fight fires

SINGAPORE — Air pollution in Singapore soared to record heights for a third consecutive day, as Indonesia sent planes and helicopters Friday to battle raging fires blamed for hazardous levels of smoky haze in three countries.

The blazes in peat swamp forests on Indonesia’s Sumatra island have sent massive plumes of smog across the sea to neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, both of which have grown impatient with Indonesia’s response to the perennial problem.

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Singapore’s environment minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, flew to Jakarta on Friday to discuss measures to tackle the forest fires that break out in Indonesia during midyear dry spells because of carelessly discarded cigarettes and illegal blazes set by plantations and farmers to clear land.

Balakrishnan’s Indonesian counterpart, Balthasar Kambuaya, pledged that Jakarta will investigate and take stern legal action against those who started fires. Some Indonesian officials have suggested that Malaysian and Singaporean companies might be among those responsible.

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