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Airline flights resume in haze-covered Central Mindanao

Local News • 23:41 PM Sat Oct 24, 2015
John Unsoon
The Cotabato Airport resumes operation as skies become clear Saturday. (tripadvisor.com)

COTABATO CITY -- All Manila-Cotabato and Cotabato-Manila flights resumed on Saturday after a six-day suspension owing to poor visibility from mid-air due to aerial haze. The haze was spawned by a forest fire in Indonesia, now spreading through southern-most parts of Mindanao.The operation of the Maguindanao Airport in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao, about eight kilometers southwest of Cotabato City, returned to normal early Saturday after aviation authorities approved the resumption of flights.Charlene Jamero, weather specialists of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), told reporters the poor visibility in the surroundings of the Maguindanao Airport from inside approaching aircrafts was caused by the haze.The Maguindanao Airport was shut on October 17 after strong winds brought in the haze from Indonesia, where there is a forest fire the Indonesian government has been trying to douse off for more than a week now.Even helicopters were prevented by aviation authorities to fly over selected areas in Southern Mindanao to preclude accidents.Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on Saturday said flight dangers prevented prospective investors from touring over the island province of Basilan using a helicopter to inspect potential sites for a 4,000-hectare foreign-assisted Cavendish banana farm project.Physician Kadil Sinolinding, Jr., regional health secretary of ARMM, on Friday issued a written advisory warning folks on possible health problems the haze can cause. The haze carries dust particles that can contaminate the air we breathe and cause itchy eyes, dry throat and cough, sneezing and allergy. Let’s avoid going around breathing the air in areas where the haze from Indonesia had spread,” he said in the advisory.He said people in areas below skies now blanketed with haze need to drink plenty of water and take anti-cough medicines under the guidance of physicians once afflicted with cough. We are advising people in the autonomous region to stay indoors and avoid exposing themselves to these health hazards,” Sinolinding said.

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