The smog outbreak that struck Southeast Asia last year caused more than 100,000 premature deaths, according to a study released today.
Researchers from US universities Harvard and Columbia estimate more than 90,000 premature deaths in Indonesia in areas affected by the fog due to the fire, and thousands in Singapore and Malaysia neighbors.
The new estimate, achieved through a complex analytical model is far superior to previous data made available by the authorities, only 19 deaths in Indonesia.
“If nothing changes, this smog killer will continue to kill, year after year. Not to act immediately to stop the loss of life would be a crime,” said the head of Greenpeace Indonesia, Yuyun Indradi.
The Indonesian authorities have insisted that they are strengthening the fight against seasonal fires, most the result of fires, through the suspension of allocation of new land for plantations for palm oil production.
Dense fog is an annual problem caused by fires, but last year reached unprecedented proportions, with parts of the region completely surrounded by smog for several weeks, causing many people to become ill.
The new study, to be published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, estimates that a total 100,300 people died prematurely in the three countries due to fires last year.
Researchers estimate 91,600 deaths in Indonesia, 6,500 in Malaysia and 2,200 in Singapore.