Kabut asap kebakaran hutan dan lahan di Riau telah mengakibatkan jarak pandang di sejumlah wilayah di Sumatera Barat (Sumbar) hanya berkisar 100 hingga 900 meter. Hal itu telah disampaikan oleh Badan Meteorologi Klimatologi dan Geofisika (BMKG) Ketaping Kabupaten Padangpariaman, Sumatera Barat.

"Sejak pagi terpantau jarak pandang terpendek berada di Kota Payakumbuh 100 meter, Padang Panjang 700 meter, Sicincin 500 meter, dan Kota Padang sekitar 600 hingga 900 meter," kata Analis Forecasther BMKG Padangpariaman, Siska Anggraini di Padang, Rabu (12/3).

Ia juga memastikan saat ini di seluruh wilayah Sumbar telah diselimuti oleh kabut asap dengan ketebalan bervariasi. Namun, berdasarkan pantauan wilayah yang paling parah diselimuti kabut asap adalah Kota Payakumbuh dan Kabupaten Lima Puluh Kota, karena posisinya yang berbatasan langsung dengan Riau.

"Diperkirakan kabut asap yang telah menyelimuti wilayah Sumbar tersebut akan terus terjadi hingga akhir pekan karena perkiraan cuaca daerah ini dalam tiga hari ke depan cerah berawan," katanya.

Kondisi ini, katanya, telah diperparah oleh belum adanya tanda-tanda akan padam sumber titik api di Riau serta belum ada potensi hujan yang menyebabkan kabut asap terus bertambah.

Sementara itu, Manajer Operasional PT Angkasa Pura II Bandara Internasional Minangkabau (BIM) di Padangpariaman, Joko Sudarmanto juga mengatakan kabut asap yang terjadi belum menggangu aktivitas penerbangan.

"Pada pagi ini cuaca juga sempat memburuk dengan jarak pandang hanya 800 meter, namun saat ini sudah agak membaik sehingga aktivitas penerbangan dapat berjalan dengan lancar tanpa ada hambatan," katanya.

Ia juga menyebutkan hingga saat ini sudah empat penerbangan yang datang dan berangkat. Kabut asap yang menyelimuti sejumlah wilayah Sumbar terpantau pekat sejak pagi hari di mana terlihat bayangan putih dalam jarak pandang 500 meter.

Di jalan yang ada di Kota Padang sejak pagi terlihat sebagian besar pengendara sepeda motor menggunakan masker dan menghidupkan lampu kendaraan akibat terbatasnya jarak pandang.

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Many bodies prepared for cremation last week in Kathmandu were of young men from Gongabu, a common stopover for Nepali migrant workers headed overseas. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

KATHMANDU, Nepal — When the dense pillar of smoke from cremations by the Bagmati River was thinning late last week, the bodies were all coming from Gongabu, a common stopover for Nepali migrant workers headed overseas, and they were all of young men.

Hindu custom dictates that funeral pyres should be lighted by the oldest son of the deceased, but these men were too young to have sons, so they were burned by their brothers or fathers. Sukla Lal, a maize farmer, made a 14-hour journey by bus to retrieve the body of his 19-year-old son, who had been on his way to the Persian Gulf to work as a laborer.

“He wanted to live in the countryside, but he was compelled to leave by poverty,” Mr. Lal said, gazing ahead steadily as his son’s remains smoldered. “He told me, ‘You can live on your land, and I will come up with money, and we will have a happy family.’ ”

Weeks will pass before the authorities can give a complete accounting of who died in the April 25 earthquake, but it is already clear that Nepal cannot afford the losses. The countryside was largely stripped of its healthy young men even before the quake, as they migrated in great waves — 1,500 a day by some estimates — to work as laborers in India, Malaysia or one of the gulf nations, leaving many small communities populated only by elderly parents, women and children. Economists say that at some times of the year, one-quarter of Nepal’s population is working outside the country.

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