MALAYSIA – Malaysia plans to carry out cloud seeding in central Selangor state and parts of the peninsular to fight the haze sweeping the region, the Star newspaper reported, citing government deputy minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis.
Indonesian authorities are investigating four companies, including palm oil producers, over fires on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan. As many as 42 properties have been sealed off, the Antara news agency reported.
Singapore and Malaysia have been plagued for decades by periodic haze caused by clouds of ash from fires in neighboring Indonesia, with pollution levels at hazardous levels causing deaths and respiratory illnesses. Stinging smoke from illegal burning to clear land for palm oil and paper plantations has prompted school closures and disrupted travel in the region, and even forced Indonesians to flee their homes.
Here’s the latest:
Schools Shut (Sunday)
More than 300 schools in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor will be closed Sunday after the Air Pollutant Index hit very unhealthy levels, the Star reports. Johor’s weekend is Friday and Saturday with Sunday being a normal work day.
Hotspots in Indonesia (Saturday)
More than 4,000 hotspots were detected in the central and western parts of Indonesia as of Saturday as authorities deployed thousands of people to fight the fires that are contributing to the haze.
Malaysian plantation company Kuala Lumpur Kepong will cooperate with Indonesian authorities in the investigation into forest fires on land owned by a subsidiary, P.T. Adei Plantation and Industry, according to report from Bernama on Saturday.
Stranded Travelers (Friday)
The haze caused by the fires has also disrupted dozens of Lion Air Group flights in recent days, with the airline having to delay or cancel services. More than 1,000 travelers were left stranded at an airport in the state of Perak on Friday as flights were canceled due to the worsening haze, the Star reported on Saturday. Five flights by Singapore Air’s budget unit Scoot, AirAsia and Malindo were affected by the cancellations, the paper said.
Face Masks for Thai Tourists
Local authorities in the Thai district of Hat Yai, under the Songkhla province, are handing out face masks to residents and tourists, according to the Bangkok Post on Friday. The environmental office in Songkhla province reported a haze reading of PM2.5 at 54 microgrammes per cubic meter of air, exceeding the safe threshold set at 50 in Thailand.
Malaysia and Indonesia Spar
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad wrote a letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, offering help to put out the forest fires.
Singapore’s Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said the country has offered technical firefighting assistance to Indonesia and is prepared to deploy them if requested.