Kuala Lumpur: Haze from fires burning in
Indonesia has drifted over Malaysia`s west coast, sending air
pollution to dangerous levels in one town where schools were
reportedly forced to shut on Wednesday.
In Muar, a coastal town on the narrow strait which
separates the two countries, pollution levels shot up to 415
by today morning, well into the hazardous range which begins
at 301. A rating of 0-50 is considered good.
"This is because of a hot-spot from Sumatra. You can
see the affected area on satellite images, it`s caused by land
clearing and plantations," an environment department official
told a news agency.
Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said schools in
Muar had been closed and thousands of masks were being
distributed, according to the Star daily. Authorities were
also rushing to carry out cloud seeding to disperse the smoke.
Muar is situated in Johor state, where most other
towns were not so badly affected. However in the west coast
tourist centre of Malacca, air quality had deteriorated to
106, which is in the "unhealthy" range.
Haze caused by fires in Indonesia builds up during the
dry season, affecting tourism and contributing to health
problems across the region.
Indonesia`s government has outlawed land-clearing by
fire but weak law enforcement means the ban is largely