Sarawak to mobilise agencies as haze worsens

The air pollutant index at Sri Aman, Sarawak, hit its highest level of 407 at 5pm today. (Bernama pic.)

KUCHING: Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas said the State Disaster Management Committee will mobilise all relevant agencies after Sri Aman recorded a hazardous API reading of 407 at 5pm today.

He said he has also contacted the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) to hasten cloud seeding operations once atmospheric conditions permit.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department had announced that it was postponing the cloud seeding operations in Sarawak to Friday, Saturday and Sunday due to unsuitable atmospheric conditions.

Uggah said he had also instructed the Fire and Rescue Department to assist in putting out bush fires in Sri Aman after two hotspots were detected.

“We are aware that there are two hotspots in Sri Aman. However, the haze is believed to be from Kalimantan,” he said in a statement.

Based on a report by the Sarawak Department of Environment, a total of 452 hotspots were detected in Kalimantan, 243 in Sumatra and 17 in Sarawak.

In a separate statement, Fire and Rescue Department operations assistant director Tiong Ling Hii said a total of 304 cases of fire had been reported between Sept 1 and 17.

Eight bush fires were reported in Kuching, Sri Aman, Sarikei, Miri and Limbang today.

“On average, the Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department has responded to a total of 18 bush fires everyday since Sept 1,” he said.

As of 8pm today, an API reading of 395 was recorded in Sri Aman, 214 in Kuching, 169 in Sibu, 160 in Samarahan and 157 in Sarikei.

An API reading of 0-50 shows good air quality, 51-100 moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy, and over 300 hazardous.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that all schools in Putrajaya will be open as usual tomorrow as the API reading has started to drop.

Putrajaya Education Department director Farizah Ahmad said in a statement at 6pm that the API reading dropped to below 200.

“Schools are reminded to follow the standard operating procedures and prioritise the health of students and teachers at all times,” she said.