KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Authorities in Sarawak on Borneo have ordered 1 million pollution filtering masks and are taking measures to encourage rainfall in efforts to reduce the effects of haze triggered by fires in neighboring Indonesia, a news report said Wednesday.
Air quality in Seri Aman district in Sarawak state has been rated “unhealthy” because of wildfires in Indonesia’s Kalimantan province, the Star cited Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister George Tan as saying.
“The smoke carried by the wind from Kalimantan is turning in to our direction and is hitting us,” Tan told the daily. “One million masks are now on standby and ready for distribution throughout the state.”
Tan said the hazy conditions have been aggravated by a lack of rain. He said his government was preparing to launch cloud seeding operations, in which chemicals are fired into clouds to induce downpours.
Environment officials said the overall air quality in Sarawak state on Borneo and in the rest of Malaysia was moderate, although visibility in some areas was bad.
Tan was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
In June, smoke from wildfires in Indonesia drifted across Malaysia, shrouding Kuala Lumpur and the northern island resort of Penang in thick haze.
Farmers in Indonesia and Malaysia who set illegal fires are blamed for the haze that envelops parts of Southeast Asia every dry season.