Tuesday, May 26, 2020 | ePaper

Haze closes Malaysia schools, sparks fears for Singapore F1

  • Print


Malaysia closed more than 1,000 schools nationwide on Wednesday and air quality worsened in Singapore days before the city's Formula One race, as toxic haze from Indonesian forest fires engulfed the region.

AFP, Kuala Lumpur :
Malaysia closed more than 1,000 schools nationwide Wednesday and air quality worsened in Singapore days before the city's Formula One race, as toxic haze from Indonesian forest fires engulfed the region.
Illegal fires to clear land for agricultural plantations are blazing out of control on Sumatra and Borneo islands, with Jakarta deploying thousands of security forces and water-bombing aircraft to tackle them.
The Indonesian blazes are an annual problem but this year's are the worst since 2015, when they caused a serious environmental crisis, and have added to concerns about wildfire outbreaks worldwide exacerbating global warming.
On Wednesday, air quality deteriorated to "very unhealthy" levels on the government's air pollutant index along the west coast of peninsular Malaysia, to the east of Sumatra, with the Kuala Lumpur skyline shrouded by dense smog.
Over 1,200 schools were closed due to air pollution across the country, according to a tally of figures from local education officials.
The two worst-affected states were Selangor, outside Kuala Lumpur, where 538 schools were closed, and Sarawak on Borneo with 337 closures. Hundreds of schools in several other states in peninsular Malaysia were also affected.
Borneo island is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
Air quality in Singapore worsened to unhealthy levels, with a white smog hanging over the city-state, increasing fears that this weekend's Formula One race may be affected.
Race organisers have said the possibility of haze is one of the issues in their contingency plan for Sunday's showpiece night race.
The Indonesian government has insisted it is doing all it can to fight the fires, with President Joko Widodo saying during a visit to a hard-hit area on Sumatra on Tuesday that "we have made every effort".
But this year's fires have been worsened by dry weather and experts believe there is little chance of them being extinguished until the onset of the rainy season, in October.
Indonesia's meteorology, climate and geophysics agency said Wednesday that over 1,000 hotspots - areas of intense heat detected by satellite that indicate a likely fire - had been sighted, most of them on Sumatra.
Air quality has reached dangerous levels in the worst-hit areas of Indonesia, prompting school closures and flight cancellations due to low visibility.

More News For this Category

Prison riot kills 23 in Colombia as Chile enforces virus curfew

Prison riot kills 23 in Colombia as Chile enforces virus curfew

AFP :Panic over the spread of the coronavirus sparked a prison riot in Colombia that killed 23 inmates on Sunday, as Chile became the latest Latin American country to announce

US envoy says Kabul, Taliban in first prisoner exchange talks

US envoy says Kabul, Taliban in first prisoner exchange talks

AFP :The Afghan government and the Taliban on Sunday held their first discussion on arranging prisoner exchanges, a key step in a broader push for peace, the US special envoy

US Secretary of State Pompeo visits Kabul amid multiple crises

US Secretary of State Pompeo visits Kabul amid multiple crises

AFP  :US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday, a pool report said, amid an ongoing political crisis, a raging Taliban insurgency and rising

Queen Elizabeth II moves out of palace as aide tests virus positive

NDTV :The 93-year-old monarch shifted out of the palace to Windsor Castle indefinitely on Thursday as a "precaution" and reports are that she is healthy.The aide is believed to have

Fears Bali will emerge as Indonesia's coronavirus hotspot

Fears Bali will emerge as Indonesia's coronavirus hotspot

Al Jazeera News :Denpasar, Indonesia - Authorities in Bali will allow tens of thousands of people to attend Hindu ceremonies for the island's new year, or Nyepi, celebrations this week

Zero coronavirus cases in North Korea?

Zero coronavirus cases in North Korea?

AFP :North Korea has said it has released almost all the foreigners it quarantined as a precaution.With international focus on the coronavirus, North Korea has doubled down on its missile

Iran leader refuses US help, citing virus conspiracy theory

Iran leader refuses US help, citing virus conspiracy theory

AP, Dubai :Iran's supreme leader Sunday refused U.S. assistance to fight the new coronavirus, citing an unfounded conspiracy theory that the virus could be man-made by America.Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments

N Korea says Trump's letter offers anti-virus cooperation

N Korea says Trump's letter offers anti-virus cooperation

AP, Seoul :President Donald Trump sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seeking to maintain good relations and offering cooperation in fighting the viral pandemic, Kim's

Netanyahu offers to step down next year in unity deal

Netanyahu offers to step down next year in unity deal

AP, Jerusalem :Israel's prime minister Saturday said he is ready to step down next year as part of a proposed power-sharing agreement with his chief rival meant to steer the

Virus concerns lead to 'public' meetings without the public

Virus concerns lead to 'public' meetings without the public

AP, Jefferson City :First, Oklahoma lawmakers excluded the public from the Capitol because of coronavirus concerns.Then with the public gone, lawmakers made an emergency change to the state's open-meetings law