For months now, much of Southeast Asia has been blanketed by thick grey smoke from massive out-of-control forest fires. These fires were originally deliberately set by palm oil producers and others in the back country of Indonesia to clear the land. But with advent of the El Nino weather phenomenon, the monsoon rains that usually snuff out these seasonal fires have yet to come, and there is concern that coal seams and peat bogs may keep smoldering for years. More than 30 million people in 5 countries have been suffering from the effects of the smoke. People are dying as clinics and hospitals are crowded with people suffering from respiratory problems. A controversy is now raging in Indonesia over who is to blame for the disaster, and how to prevent it from happening again. Frank Koller of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation prepared our report from Jakarta.
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