Peat fire in Muar, ‘very unhealthy’ in Tangkak and Melaka

Masks have been issued to school children and some schools have been closed during the haze crisis. (Bernama pic)

PUTRAJAYA: “Very unhealthy” air quality was reported in Tangkak, Johor, and Melaka city, caused by trans-boundary haze and several incidents of fires in the bush and on private land.

“There was a peat forest fire in Mukim Jorak in Muar which was being handled by firefighters. The fire caused a hazy situation in the surrounding areas” an official of the Environment Department said.

Schools in Melaka will be closed on Tuesday if air pollution level rises above 200 tomorrow, while schools in Pontian, Muar and Tangkak will remain closed until the readings drop below 200.

The statement said forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia, were the cause of trans-boundary haze, resulting in Air Pollutant Index readings rising in all areas along the west coast and in southern and eastern Peninsular Malaysia, and western Sarawak.

An analysis by Singapore-based Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) using satellite images from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed 708 hotspots in Kalimantan and 477 hotspots in Sumatra.

In contrast, seven hotspots were detected in Malaysia: in Sarawak (four), Sabah (two) and Pahang (one).

A regional ASMC haze map yesterday also showed that smoke haze was observed emanating from the forest fires in eastern, western, central and southern Kalimantan, as well as from the provinces of Jambi in Riau and Lampung.

“The prevailing winds from the northwest has blown the smoke haze from Kalimantan and Sumatra to affect the western parts of Sarawak and the whole of Peninsular Malaysia, causing the API readings in those areas to shoot up to unhealthy and very unhealthy levels,” it added.

Trans-boundary haze affected air quality in central and southern Peninsular Malaysia and western Sarawak. (DoE Malaysia pic)

“Unhealthy” air was recorded at 24 stations, including 11 in Sarawak, five in Johor and two in Sabah. They were: Kuching (193), Samarahan (180), Sarikei (169), Sri Aman (167), Sibu (157), Bintulu (144), ILP Miri (129), Mukah (121), Samalaju (112), SK Kuala Baram 2 (111), Miri (110) in Sarawak; Batu Pahat (186), Segamat (165), Larkin (165), Kluang (153) and Pasir Gudang (109) in Johor; and Sandakan (107) and Tawau (105) in Sabah.

“Unhealthy” readings were also recorded at Bukit Rambai (192) and Alor Gajah, Melaka (161); Port Dickson (188) and Seremban, Negeri Sembilan (105); and Rompin (115) and Indera Mahkota Kuantan, Pahang (108).