Thousands of Indonesians including high ranking government officials have prayed for rain to help extinguish forest fires in Sumatra and Borneo.
“God will send down blessings in the form of rain across the country” and that “all the experiences of the last few months would end”, Religious Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin told media sources.
After three months of fires, Indonesia's Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla had attended the ritual which was carried out at the Istiqlal Grand Mosque, Jakarta on Sunday morning.
“The prayer is initiated by the vice president himself with a hope that God will immediately give rain and end the current long dry season in Indonesia,” assistant deputy for communication and public information of the vice presidents secretariat Rusmin Nuryadin said in a written statement.
The region has suffered from forest fires for weeks, creating a choking haze that causes illness, shut some Indonesian airports and threatened wildlife.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla has organized the meeting and stated that the government has struggled to overcome the fires.
“We have put in maximum effort, from the air, the land, and prayer,” said Kalla in a statement and added the people had already managed prayer gatherings in different regions in Indonesia, and that in some areas rain had fallen following residents' prayers.
According to the government, Indonesia's forests has lost more than two million hectares due to fires in the past five months.
Nineteen people have los their lives over smoke and 500,000 more are suffering from respiratory diseases.
“We already operate four aircraft to conduct cloud seeding,” he said, adding that nearly 300 tons of salt has been sown over the last five months, National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said.
Thousands of firefighters are still trying to extinguish the fires.